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Copyright, 1915, 

By The Frank A. Munset Company 

Copyright, 1915, 

By George H. Doran Company 

NQV I 1915 





I. The Man Who Died 9 

II. The Milkman Sets Out On His 

Travels 34 

III. The Adventure of the Literary Inn- 

keeper 48 

IV. The Adventure of the Radical Can- 

didate 73 

V. The Adventure of the Spectacled 

Roadman 97 

VI. The Adventure of the Bald Archae- 
ologist 117 

ML The Dry-Fly Fisherman .... 149 

'- III. The Coming of the Black Stone . . 172 

IX. The Thirty-nine Steps 189 

X. Various Parties Converging on the 

Sea 200 

f . 





I RETURNED from the city about three 
o’clock on that May afternoon pretty well 
disgusted with life. I had been three months 
in the old country and was fed up with it. If 
any one had told me a year ago that I would 
have been feeling like that, I should have 
laughed at him, but there was the fact. The 
weather made me liverish, the talk of 
the ordinary Englishman made me sick, I 
couldn’t get enough exercise, and the amuse- 
ments of London seemed as flat as soda-water 
that has been standing in the sun. ‘^Richard 
Hannay,” I kept telling myself, “you have got 
into the wrong ditch, my friend, and you had 
better climb out.” 



It made me bite my lips to think of the 
plans I had been building up those last years 
in Buluwayo. I had got my pile — not one of 
the big ones but good enough for me ; and I 
had figured out all kinds of ways of enjoying 
myself. My father had brought me out from 
Scotland at the age of six, and I had never 
been home since; so England was a sort of 
Arabian Nights to me, and I counted on stop- 
ping there for the rest of my days. But from 
the first I was disappointed with it. In about 
a week I was tired of seeing sights, and in 
less than a month I had had enough of 
restaurants and theatres and race meetings. I 
had no real pal to go about with, which prob- 
ably explains things. Plenty of people in- 
vited me to their houses, but they didn’t seem 
much interested in me. They would ask me 
a question or two about South Africa and then 
get on to their own affairs. A lot of Imperi- 
alist ladies asked me to tea to meet school- 
masters from New Zealand and editors from 
Vancouver, and that was the dismalest busi- 
ness of all. 



Here was I, thirty-seven years old, sound 
in wind and limb, with enough money to have 
a good time, yawning my head off all day. I 
had just about settled to clear out and get back 
to the veld, for I was the best-bored man in 
the United Kingdom. 

That afternoon I had been worrying my 
brokers about investments to give my mind 
something to work on, and on my way home I 
turned into my club — rather a pot-house, 
which took in Colonial members. I had a 
long drink, and read the evening papers. They 
were full of the row in the Near East, and 
there was an article about Karolides, the 
Greek premier. I rather fancied the chap. 
From all accounts he seemed the one big 
man in the show, and he played a straight 
game, too, which was more than could be said 
for most of them. I gathered that they hated 
him pretty blackly in Berlin and Vienna, but 
that we were going to stick by him, and one 
paper said that he was the only barrier be- 
tween Europe and Armageddon. I remem- 
ber wondering if I could get a job in those 



parts. It struck me that Albania was the sort 
of place that might keep a man from yawn- 

About six o’clock I went home, dressed, 
dined at the Cafe Royal, and turned into a 
music-hall. It was a silly show, all capering 
women and monkey-faced men, and I did not 
stay long. The night was fine and clear as I 
walked back to the flat I had hired near Port- 
land Place. The crowd surged past me on 
the pavements, busy and chattering, and I 
envied the people for having something to 
do. These shop-girls and clerks and dandies 
and policemen had some interest in life that 
kept them going. I gave half a crown to a 
beggar because I saw him yawn ; he was a fel- 
low sufferer. At Oxford Circus I looked up 
into the spring sky and I made a vow. I 
would give the old country another day to fit 
me into something; if nothing happened, I 
would take the next boat for the Cape. 

My flat was the first floor in a new block 
behind Langham Place. There was a com- 
mon staircase with a porter and a lift-man 



at the entrance, but there was no restaurant or 
anything of that sort, and each flat was quite 
shut off from the others. I hate servants on 
the premises, so I had a fellow to look after 
me who came in by the day. He arrived 
before eight o’clock every morning, and used 
to depart at seven, for I never dined at home. 

I was just fitting my key into the door, when 
I noticed a man at my elbow. I had not seen 
him approach, and the sudden appearance 
made me start. He was a slim man with a 
short brown beard and small gimlety blue 
eyes. I recognised him as the occupant of a 
flat on the top floor, with whom I had passed 
the time of day on the stairs. 

“Can I speak to you?” he said. “May I 
come in for a minute?” He was steadying his 
voice with an effort, and his hand was pawing 
my arm. 

I got my door open and motioned him in. 
No sooner was he over the threshold than he 
made a dash for my back room where I used 
to smoke and write my letters. Then he 
bolted back. 



the door locked?” he asked feverishly, 
and he fastened the chain with his own hand. 

‘T’m very sorry,” he said humbly. ‘Tt’s a 
mighty liberty, but you looked the kind of 
man who would understand. I’ve had you in 
my mind all this week when things got 
troublesome. Say, will you do me a good 

‘T’ll listen to you,” I said. ^That’s all I’ll 
promise.” I was getting worried by the antics 
of this nervous little chap. 

There was a tray of drinks on a table beside 
him, from which he filled himself a stiff 
whisky and soda. He drank it off in three 
gulps, and cracked the glass as he set it down. 

“Pardon,” he said. “I’m a bit rattled to- 
night. You see, I happen at this moment to 
be dead.” 

I sat down in an armchair and lit my pipe. 

“What does it feel like?” I asked. I was 
pretty certain that I had to deal with a mad- 

A smile flickered over his drawn face. 
“I’m not mad — yet. Say, sir, I’ve been 


watching you and I reckon you’re a cool 
customer. I reckon, too, you’re an honest man, 
and not afraid of playing a bold hand. I’m 
going to confide in you. I need help worse 
than any man ever needed it, and I want to 
know if I can count you in.” 

‘^Get on with your yarn,” I said, ‘‘and then 
I’ll tell you.” 

He seemed to brace himself for a great 
effort and then started on the queerest rig- 
marole. I didn’t get hold of it at first, and I 
had to stop and ask him questions. But here 
is the gist of it: — 

He was an American, from Kentucky, and 
after college, being pretty well off, he had 
started out to see the world. He wrote a bit, 
and acted as war correspondent for a Chicago 
paper, and spent a year or two in southeastern 
Europe. I gathered that he was a fine lin- 
guist and had got to know pretty well the 
society in those parts. He spoke familiarly of 
many names that I remembered to have seen 
in the newspapers. 

He had played about with politics, he told 



me, at first for the interest of them, and then 
because he couldn’t help himself. I read him 
as a sharp, restless fellow, who always wanted 
to get down to the roots of things. He got a 
little further down than he wanted. 

I am giving you what he told me as well as 
I could make it out. Away behind all the 
governments and the armies there was a big 
subterranean movement going on, engineered 
by very dangerous people. He had come on 
it by accident; it fascinated him; he went 
further; and then got caught. I gathered 
that most of the people in it were the sort 
of educated anarchists that make revolu- 
tions, but that beside them there were finan- 
ciers who were playing for money. A clever 
man can make big profits on a falling mar- 
ket, and it suited the book of both classes 
to set Europe by the ears. He told me 
some queer things that explained a lot that 
had puzzled me — things that happened in the 
Balkan War, how one state suddenly came 
out on top, why alliances were made and 
broken, why certain men disappeared, and 



where the sinews of war came from. The 
aim of the whole conspiracy was to get 
Russia and Germany at loggerheads. 

When I asked why, he said that the anar- 
chist lot thought it would give them their 
chance. Everything would be in the melting- 
pot, and they looked to see a new world 
emerge. The capitalists would rake in the 
shekels, and make fortunes by buying up 

Capital, he said, had no conscience and no 
fatherland; besides, the Jew was behind it, 
and the Jew hated Russia worse than hell. 

“Do you wonder?” he cried. “For three 
hundred years they have been persecuted, and 
this is the return match for the pogroms. The 
Jew is everywhere, but you have to go far 
down the back stairs to find him. 

“Take any big Teutonic business concern. 
If you have dealings with it the first man you 
meet is Prince von Und zu Something, an ele- 
gant young man who talks Eton-and-Harrow 
English. But he cuts no ice. If your business 
is big, you get behind him and find a progna- 



thous Westphalian with a retreating brow and 
the manners of a hog. 

‘‘He is the German business man that gives 
your English papers the shakes. But if you’re 
on the biggest kind of job and are bound to 
get to the real boss, ten to one you are brought 
up against a little, white-faced Jew in a bath- 
chair, with an eye like a rattlesnake. Yes, sir, 
he is the man who is ruling the world just 
now, and he has his knife in the empire of the 
Tzar because his aunt was outraged and his 
father flogged in some one-horse location on 
the Volga.” 

I could not help saying that his Jew-anar- 
chists seemed to have got left behind a little. 

“Yes and no,” he said. “They won up to a 
point, but they struck a bigger thing than 
money, a thing that couldn’t be bought, the 
old elemental fighting instincts of man. If 
you’re going to be killed you invent some kind 
of flag and country to fight for, and if you sur- 
vive, you get to love the thing. These foolish 
devils of soldiers have found something they 
care for, and that has upset the pretty plan laid 



in Berlin and Vienna. But my friends haven’t 
played their last card by a long sight. They’ve 
got the ace up their sleeves, and unless I can 
keep alive for a month, they are going to play 
it, and win.” 

“But I thought you were dead,” I put in. 

^^Mors janua he smiled. (I recog- 

nised the quotation : it was about all the Latin 
I knew.) “I’m coming to that, but I’ve got 
to put you wise about a lot of things first. If 
you read your newspaper, I guess you know 
the name of Constantine Karolides?” 

I sat up at that, for I had been reading 
about him that very afternoon. 

“He is the man that has wrecked all their 
games. He is the one big brain in the whole 
show, and he happens also to be an honest 
man. Therefore he has been marked down 
these twelve months past. I found that out — • 
not that it was difficult, for any fool could 
guess as much. But I found out the way they 
were going to get him, and that knowledge 
was deadly. That’s why I have had to de- 



He had another drink and I mixed it for 
him myself, for I was getting interested in the 

“They can’t get him in his own land, for he 
has a bodyguard of Epirotes that would skin 
their grandmothers. But on the fifteenth day 
of June he is coming to this city. The British 
Foreign Office has taken to having interna- 
tional tea-parties, and the biggest of them is 
due on that date. Now Karolides is reckoned 
the principal guest, and if my friends have 
their way, he will never return to his admiring 

“That’s simple enough, anyhow,” I said. 
“You can warn him and keep him at 

“And play their game?” he asked sharply. 
“If he does not come they win, for he’s the 
only man that can straighten out the tangle. 
And if his government is warned he won’t 
come, for he does not know how big the stakes 
will be on June 15th.” 

“What about the British Government?” I 
asked. “They’re not going to let their guests 


be murdered. Tip them the wink, and they’ll 
take extra precautions.” 

good. They might stuff your city with 
plain-clothes detectives and double the police, 
and Constantine would still be a doomed man. 
My friends are not playing this game for 
candy. They want a big occasion for the tak- 
ing off, with the eyes of all Europe on it. He’ll 
be murdered by an Austrian, and there’ll be 
plenty of evidence to show the connivance of 
the big folk in Vienna and Berlin. It will all 
be an infernal lie, of course, but the case will 
look black enough to the world. I’m not 
talking hot air, my friend. I happen to know 
every detail of the hellish contrivance, and I 
can tell you it will be the most finished piece 
of blackguardism since the Borgias. But 
it’s not going to come off if there’s a certain 
man who knows the wheels of the business 
alive right here in London on the 15th day 
of June. And that man is going to be your 
servant, Franklin P. Scudder.” 

I was getting to like the little chap. His 
jaw had shut like a rat-trap and there was the 



fire of battle in his gimlety eyes. If he was 
spinning me a yarn, he could act up to it. 

“Where did you find out this story?” I 

“I got the first hint in an inn on the Achen- 
see in Tyrol. That set me inquiring, and I 
collected my other clues in a fur-shop in the 
Galician quarter of Buda, in a Strangers’ Club 
in Vienna, and in a little book-shop off the 
Racknitzstrasse in Leipsic. I completed my 
evidence ten days ago in Paris. I can’t tell 
you the details now, for it’s something of a 
history. When I was quite sure in my own 
mind, I judged it my business to disappear, 
and I reached this city by a mighty queer 
circuit. I left Paris a dandified young French- 
American, and I sailed from Hamburg a Jew 
diamond merchant. In Norway I was an 
English student of Ibsen, collecting materials 
for lectures, but when I left Bergen I was a 
cinema-man with special ski films. And I 
came here from Leith with a lot of pulp-wood 
.propositions in my pocket to put before 
the London newspapers. Till yesterday I 


thought I had muddied my trail some, and 
was feeling pretty happy. Then . . 

The recollection seemed to upset him, and 
he gulped down some more whisky. 

“Then I saw a man standing in the street 
outside this block. I used to stay close in my 
room all day, and only slip out after dark for 
an hour or two. I watched him for a bit from 
my window, and I thought I recognised him. 
. . . He came in and spoke to the porter. . . . 
When I came back from my walk last night I 
found a card in my letter-box. It bore the 
name of the man I want least to meet on 
God’s earth.” 

I think that the look in my companion’s 
eyes, the sheer naked fright on his face, com- 
pleted my conviction of his honesty. My own 
voice sharpened a bit as I asked him what he 
did next. 

“I realised that I was bottled as sure as a 
pickled herring and that there was only one 
way out. I had to die. If my pursuers knew 
I was dead they would go to sleep again.” 

“How did you manage it?” 



‘T told the man that valets me that I was 
feeling pretty bad, and I got myself up to look 
like death. That wasn’t difficult, for I’m no 
slouch at disguises. Then I got a corpse — 
you can always get a body in London if you 
know where to go for it. I fetched it back in 
a trunk on the top of a four-wheeler, and I 
had to be assisted upstairs to my room. You 
see, I had to pile up some evidence for 
the inquest. I went to bed and got my man to 
mix me a sleeping-draught, and then told him 
to clear out. He wanted to fetch a doctor, but 
I swore some and said I couldn’t abide leeches. 
When I was left alone I started in to fake up 
that corpse. He was my size and I judged 
had perished from too much alcohol, so I put 
some spirits handy about the place. The jaw 
was the weak point in the likeness, so I blew it 
away with a revolver. I dare say there will 
be somebody to-morrow to swear to having 
heard a shot, but there are no neighbours on 
my floor and I guessed I could risk it. So 
I left the body in bed dressed up in my 
pyjamas with a revolver lying on the bed- 



clothes and a considerable mess around. Then 
I got into a suit of clothes I had kept waiting 
for emergencies. I didn’t dare to shave for 
fear of leaving tracks, and besides it wasn’t 
any kind of use my trying to get into the 
streets. I had had you in my mind all day, 
and there seemed nothing to do but to make an 
appeal to you. I watched from my window 
till I saw you come home and then slipped 
down the stair to meet you. . . . There, sir, I 
guess you know about as much as me of this 

He sat blinking like an owl, fluttering with 
nerves and yet desperately determined. 

By this time I was pretty well convinced 
that he was going straight with me. It was 
the wildest sort of narrative, but I had heard 
in my time many steep tales which had turned 
out to be true, and I had made a practice of 
judging the man rather than the story. If 
he had wanted to get a location in my flat 
and then cut my throat he would have pitched 
a milder yarn. 

“Hand me your key,” I said, “and I’ll take 



a look at the corpse. Excuse my caution, but 
I’m bound to verify a bit if I can.” 

He shook his head mournfully. ‘T reck- 
oned you’d ask for that, but I haven’t got it. 
It’s on my chain on the dressing-table. I had 
to leave it behind, for I couldn’t leave any 
clues to raise suspicions. The gentry who 
are after me are pretty bright-eyed citizens. 
You’ll have to take me on trust for the night, 
and to-morrow you’ll get proof of the corpse 
business right enough.” 

I thought for an instant or two. 

“Right. I’ll trust you for the night. I’ll 
lock you into this room and keep the key. 
Just one word, Mr. Scudder. I believe you’re 
straight, but if so be you are not I should warn 
you that I’m a handy man with a gun.” 

“Sure,” he said, jumping up with some 
briskness. “I haven’t the privilege of your 
name, sir, but let me tell you that you’re a 
white man. I’ll thank you to lend me a razor.” 

I took him into my bedroom and turned him 
loose. In half an hour’s time a figure came 
out that I scarcely recognised. Only his gim- 


lety, hungry eyes were the same. He was 
shaved clean, his hair was parted in the mid- 
dle, and he had cut his eyebrows. 

Further, he carried himself as if he had 
been drilled, and was the very model, even to 
the brown complexion, of some British officer 
who had had a long spell in India. He had 
a monocle, too, which he stuck in his eye, and 
every trace of the American had gone out of 
his speech. 

‘‘My hat! Mr. Scudder — ” I stammered. 

“Not Mr. Scudder,” he corrected, “Captain 
Theophilus Digby, of the Seventh Gurkhas, 
presently home on leave. I’ll thank you to re- 
member that, sir.” * 

I made him a bed in my smoking-room 
and sought my own couch, more cheerful than 
I had been for the past month. Things did 
happen occasionally, even in this God-forgot- 
ten metropolis! 

I woke next morning to hear my man. Pad- 
dock, making the deuce of a row at the smok- 
ing-room door. 



Paddock was a fellow I had done a good 
turn to out on the Selakwi, and I had in- 
spanned him as my servant as soon as I got to 
England. He had about as much gift of the 
gab as a hippopotamus, and was not a great 
hand at valeting, but I knew I could count 
on his loyalty. 

‘^Stop that row. Paddock,” I said. ‘^There’s 
a friend of mine. Captain — Captain — ” (I 
couldn’t remember the name) ^‘dossing down 
in there. Get breakfast for two and then come 
and speak to me.” 

I told Paddock a fine story about how my 
friend was a great swell,, with his nerves pretty 
bad from over-work, who wanted absolute rest 
and stillness. Nobody had got to know he 
was here, or he would be besieged by com- 
munications from the India office and the 
Prime Minister and his cure would be 

I am bound to say Scudder played up splen- 
didly when he came to breakfast. 

He fixed Paddock with his eyeglass, just 
like a British officer, asked him about the Boer 


War, and slung out at me a lot of stuff about 
imaginary pals. Paddock couldn’t learn to 
call me “sir,” but he “sirred” Scudder as if 
his life depended on it. 

I left him with the newspaper and a box of 
cigars, and went down to the city till lunch- 
eon. When I got back the porter had a 
weighty face. 

“Nawsty business ’ere this morning, sir. 
Gent in No. 15 been and shot ’isself. They’ve 
just took ’im to the mortuary. The police are 
up there now.” 

I ascended to No. 15 and found a couple of 
bobbies and an inspector busy making an ex- 
amination. I asked a few idiotic questions 
and they soon kicked me out. Then I found 
the man that had valeted Scudder, and 
pumped him, but I could see he suspected 

He was a whining fellow with a church- 
yard face, and half a crown went far to con- 
sole him. 

I attended the inquest next day. A part- 
ner of some publishing firm gave evidence 


that the deceased had brought him wood-pulp 
propositions and had been, he believed, an 
agent of an American business. The jury 
found it a case of suicide while of unsound 
mind, and the few effects were handed over 
to the American consul to deal with. I gave 
Scudder a full account of the affair and it 
interested him greatly. He said he wished 
he could have attended the inquest for he 
reckoned it would be about as spicy as to read 
one’s own obituary notice. 

The first two days he stayed with me in that 
back room he was very peaceful. He read 
and smoked a bit, and made a heap of jottings 
in a note-book, and every night we had a 
game of chess, at which he beat me hollow. 
I think he was nursing his nerves back to 
health, for he had had a pretty trying time. 
But on the third day I could see he was be- 
ginning to get restless. He fixed up a list of 
the days till June 15th and ticked each off with 
a red pencil, making remarks in shorthand 
against them. I would find him sunk in a 
brown study, with his sharp eyes abstracted, 



and after these spells of meditation he was apt 
to be very despondent. 

Then I could see that he began to get edgy 
again. He listened for little noises, and was 
always asking me if Paddock could be trusted. 
Once or twice he got very peevish and apolo- 
gised for it. I didn’t blame him. I made 
every allowance, for he had taken on a fairly 
stiff job. 

It was not the safety of his own skin that 
troubled him, but the success of the scheme 
he had planned. That little man was clean 
pluck all through, without a soft spot in him. 
One night he was very solemn. 

“Say, Hannay,” he said, “I judge I should 
let you a bit deeper into this business. I should 
hate to go out without leaving somebody else 
to put up a fight.” And he began to tell me 
in detail what I had only heard from him 

I did not give him very close attention. The 
fact is I was more interested in his own ad- 
ventures than in his high politics. I reckoned 
that Karolides and his affairs were not my 



business, leaving all that to him. So a 
lot that he said slipped clean out of my 
memory. I remember that he was very clear 
that the danger to Karolides would not begin 
till he had got to London, and would come 
from the very highest quarters, where there 
would be no thought of suspicion. He men- 
tioned the name of a woman — Julia Czechenyi 
— as having something to do with the danger. 
She would be the decoy, I gathered, to get 
Karolides out of the care of his guards. He 
talked, too, about a Black Stone and a man 
that lisped in his speech, and he described 
very particularly somebody that he never re- 
ferred to without a shudder — an old man with 
a young voice who could hood his eyes like a 

He spoke a good deal about death, too. He 
was mortally anxious about winning through 
with his job, but he didn’t care a rush for his 

“I reckon it’s like going to sleep when you 
are pretty well tired out, and waking to find 
a summer day with the scent of hay coming 



in at the window. I used to thank God for 
such mornings ’way back in the blue-grass 
country and I guess I’ll thank Him when I 
wake up on the other side of Jordan.” 

Next day he was much more cheerful and 
read the life of Stonewall Jackson most of 
the time. I went out to dinner with a mining 
engineer I had got to see on business, and came 
back about half past ten in time for our game 
of chess before turning in. 

I had a cigar in my mouth, I remember, as 
I pushed open the smoking-room door. The 
lights were not lit, which struck me as odd. 
I wondered if Scudder had turned in already. 

I snapped the switch, but there was nobody 
there. Then I saw something in the far corner 
which made me drop my cigar and fall into a 
cold sweat. 

My guest was lying sprawled on his back. 
There was a long knife through his heart, 
which skewered him to the floor. 




1 SAT down in an armchair and felt very- 
sick. That lasted for maybe five min- 
utes, and was succeeded by a fit of the horrors. 
The poor, staring, white face on the floor was 
more than I could bear, and I managed to get 
a table-cloth and cover it. Then I staggered 
to a cupboard, found the brandy and swal- 
lowed several mouthfuls. I had seen men die 
violently before; indeed, I had killed a few 
myself in the Matabele War, but this cold- 
blooded indoor business was different. Still 
I managed to pull myself together. 

I looked at my watch, and saw that it was 
half past ten. An idea seized me and I went 
over the flat with a small-tooth comb. There 
was nobody there, nor any trace of anybody, 
but I shuttered and bolted all the windows and 
put the chain on the door. 



By this time my wits were coming back to 
me and I could think again. It took me about 
an hour to figure the thing out, and I did not 
hurry, for, unless the murderer came back, 
I had till about six o’clock in the morning for 
my cogitations. 

I was in the soup — that was pretty clear. 
Any shadow of a doubt I might have had 
about the truth of Scudder’s tale was now 
gone. The proof of it was lying under the 
tablecloth. The men who knew that he knew 
what he knew had found him, and had taken 
the best way to make certain of his silence. 
Yes: but he had been in my rooms four days, 
and his enemies must have reckoned that 
he had confided in me. So I would be the 
next to go. It might be that very night, or 
next day, or the day after, but my number was 
up all right. 

Then suddenly I thought of another proba- 
bility. Supposing I went out now and called 
in the police, or went to bed and let Paddock 
find the body and call them in the morning. 
What kind of a story was I to tell about Scud- 


der? I had lied to Paddock about him, and 
the whole thing looked desperately fishy. If I 
made a clean breast of it and told the police 
everything he had told me, they would simply 
laugh at me. The odds were a thousand to 
one that I would be charged with the murder, 
and the circumstantial evidence was strong 
enough to hang me. Few people knew me in 
England ; I had no real pal who could come 
forward and swear to my character. Perhaps 
that was what those secret enemies were play- 
ing for. They were clever enough for any- 
thing, and an English prison was as good 
a way of getting rid of me till after June 
15th as a knife in my chest. 

Besides, if I told the whole story and by any 
miracle was believed I would be playing their 
game. Karolides would stay at home, which 
was what they wanted. Somehow or other 
the sight of Scudder’s dead face had made me 
a passionate believer in his scheme. He was 
gone, but he had taken me into his con- 
fidence, and I was pretty well bound to carry 
on his work. You may think this ridicu- 



lous for a man in danger of his life, but that 
was the way I looked at it. I am an ordi- 
nary sort of fellow, not braver than other 
people, but I hate to see a good man downed, 
and that long knife would not be the end of 
Scudder if I could play the game in his place. 

It took me an hour or two to think this out, 
and by that time I had come to a decision. I 
must vanish somehow, and keep vanished till 
the end of the second week of June. Then 
I must somehow find a way to get in touch 
with the government people and tell them 
what Scudder had told me. I wished to 
Heaven he had told me more, and that I 
had listened more carefully to the little 
he had told me. I knew nothing but the 
barest facts. There was a big risk that, even 
if I weathered the other dangers, I would not 
be believed in the end. I must take my chance 
of that, and hope that something might hap- 
pen which would confirm my tale in the eyes 
of the government. 

My first job was to keep going for the next 
three weeks. It was now the 24th of May, 


and that meant twenty days of hiding before I 
could venture to approach the powers that be. 
I reckoned that two sets of people would be 
looking for me — Scudder’s enemies to put me 
out of existence, and the police, who would 
want me for Scudder’s murder. It was go- 
ing to be a giddy hunt, and it was queer 
how the prospect comforted me. I had 
been slack so long that almost any chance of 
activity was welcome. When I had to sit 
alone with that corpse and wait on Fortune I 
was no better than a crushed worm, but if my 
neck’s safety was to hang on my own wits I 
was prepared to be cheerful about it. 

My next thought was whether Scudder had 
any papers about him to give me a better clue 
to the business. I drew back the tablecloth 
and searched his pockets, for I had no longer 
any shrinking from the body. The face was 
wonderfully calm for a man who had been 
struck down in a moment. There was noth- 
ing in the breast pocket, and only a few 
loose coins and a cigar-holder in the waist- 
coat. The trousers held a little pen- 



knife and some silver, and the side-pocket of 
his jacket contained an old crocodile-skin ci- 
gar-case. There was no sign of the little black 
book in which I had seen him making notes. 
That had, no doubt, been taken by his mur- 

But as I looked up from my task I saw that 
some drawers had been pulled out in the writ- 
ing-table. Scudder would never have left 
them in that state, for he was the tidiest of 
mortals. Some one must have been searching 
for something — perhaps for the pocket-book. 

I went round the flat and found that every- 
thing had been ransacked — the inside of books, 
drawers, cupboards, boxes, even the pockets of 
the clothes in my wardrobe, and the sideboard 
in the dining-room. There was no trace of 
the book. Most likely the enemy had found 
it, but they had not found it on Scudder’s 

Then I got out an atlas and looked at a big 
map of the British Isles. My notion was to 
get off to some wild district, where my veld- 
craft would be of some use to me, for I would 


be like a trapped rat in a city. I considered 
that Scotland would be best, for my people 
were Scotch and I could pass anywhere as an 
ordinary Scotsman. I had half an idea at first 
to be a German tourist, for my father had had 
German partners and I had been brought up 
to speak the tongue pretty fluently, not to 
mention having put in three years prospecting 
for copper in German Damaraland. 

But I calculated that it would be less con- 
spicuous to be a Scot, and less in a line with 
what the police might know of my past. I 
fixed on Galloway as the best place to go to. 
It was the nearest wild part of Scotland, so 
far as I could figure it out, and from the look 
of the map was not overthick with population. 

A search in Bradshaw informed me that a 
train left St. Pancras at seven-ten, which 
would land me at a Galloway station in the 
late afternoon. That was well enough, but a 
more important matter was how I was to 
make my way to St. Pancras, for I was pretty 
certain that Scudder’s friends would be watch- 
ing outside. This puzzled me for a bit ; then I 


had an inspiration, on which I went to bed 
and slept for two troubled hours. 

I got up at four and opened my bedroom 
shutters. The faint light of a fine summer 
morning was flooding the skies, and the spar- 
rows had begun to chatter. I had a great re- 
vulsion of feeling, and felt a God-forgotten 

My inclination was to let things slide, and 
trust to the British police taking a reasonable 
view of my case. But as I viewed the situa- 
tion I could find no arguments to bring against 
my decision of the previous night, so with a 
wry mouth I resolved to go on with my plan. 
I was not feeling in any particular funk; only 
disinclined to go looking for trouble, if you 
understand me. 

I hunted out a well-used tweed suit, a pair 
of strong-nailed boots, and a flannel shirt with 
a collar. Into my pockets I stuffed a spare 
shirt, a cloth cap, some handkerchiefs, and a 
tooth-brush. I had drawn a good sum in gold' 
from the bank two days before, in case Scud- 
der should want money, and I took fifty 



pounds of it in sovereigns in a belt which I 
had brought back from Rhodesia. That was 
about all I wanted. Then I had a bath, and 
cut my moustache, which was long and droop- 
ing, into a short stubbly fringe. 

Now came the next step. Paddock used to 
arrive punctually at seven-thirty and let him- 
self in with a latch-key. But about twenty 
minutes to seven, as I knew from bitter expe- 
rience, the milkman turned up with a great 
clatter of cans, and deposited my share outside 
my door. I had seen that milkman some- 
times when I had gone out for an early ride. 
He was a young man about my own height, 
with a scrubby moustache, dressed in a white 
overall. On him I staked all my chances. 

I went into the darkened smoking-room 
where the rays of morning light were begin- 
ning to creep through the shutters. There I 
breakfasted off a whisky-and-soda and some 
biscuits from the cupboard. By this time it 
was getting on to six o’clock. I put a pipe 
in my pocket and filled my pouch from the 
tobacco jar on the table by the fireplace. As 


I poked into the tobacco my fingers touched 
something hard, and I drew out Scudder’s 
little black pocket-book. 

That seemed to me a good omen. I lifted 
the cloth from the body and was amazed at 
the peace and dignity of the dead face. 
‘^Good-bye, old chap,” I said; “I am going to ' 
do my best for you. Wish rne well wherever 
you are.” 

Then I hung about in the hall waiting for 
the milkman. That was the worst part of the 
business, for I was fairly choking to get out 
of doors. Six-thirty passed, then six-forty, 
but still he did not come. The fool had 
chosen this day of all days to be late. 

At one minute after the quarter to seven I 
heard the rattle of the cans outside. I opened 
the front door, and there was my man, singling 
out my cans from a bunch he carried and 
whistling through his teeth. He jumped a 
bit at the sight of me. 

“Come in here a moment,” I said, “I want 
a word with you.” And I led him into the 



“I reckon you’re a bit of a sportsman,” I 
said, ‘‘and I want you to do me a service. 
Lend me your cap and overall for ten minutes 
and here’s a sovereign for you.” 

His eyes opened at the sight of the gold, 
and he grinned broadly. “Wot’s the gyme?” 
he asked. 

“A bet,” I said. “I haven’t time to explain, 
but to win it I’ve got to be a milkman for the 
next ten minutes. All you’ve got to do is to 
stay here till I come back. You’ll be a bit late, 
but nobody will complain, and you’ll have that 
quid for yourself.” 

“Right-0 !” he said cheerily, “I ain’t the 
man to spoil a bit of sport. Here’s the rig, 

I stuck on his flat blue hat and his white 
overall, picked up the cans, banged my door, 
and went whistling downstairs. The porter 
at the foot told me to shut my jaw, which 
sounded as if my make-up was adequate. 

At first I thought there was nobody in the 
street. Then I caught sight of a policeman a 
hundred yards down, and a loafer shuffling 


past on the other side. Some impulse made me 
raise my eyes to the house opposite, and there 
at a first-floor window was a face. As the 
loafer passed he looked up and I fancied a 
signal was exchanged. 

I crossed the street, whistling gaily and imi- 
tating the j aunty swing of the milkman. Then 
I took the first side street, and turned up a left- 
hand turning which led past a bit of vacant 
ground. There was no one in the little street, 
so I dropped the milk-cans inside the hoard- 
ing and sent the hat and overall after them. 
I had only just put on my cloth cap, when 
a postman came round the corner. I gave 
him good-morning, and he answered me un- 
suspiciously. At the moment the clock of a 
neighbouring church struck the hour of 

There was not a second to spare. As soon 
as I got to Euston Road I took to my 
heels and ran. The clock at Euston Sta- 
tion showed five minutes past the hour. At 
St. Pancras I had no time to take a ticket, let 
alone that I had not settled upon my destina- 
45 ' 


tion. A porter told me the platform, and as 
I entered it I saw the train already in motion. 
Two station officials blocked the way, but 
I dodged them and clambered into the last 

Three minutes later, as we were roaring 
through the northern tunnels, an irate guard 
interviewed me. He wrote out for me a ticket 
to Newtown Stewart, a name which had sud- 
denly come back to my memory, and he con- 
ducted me from the first-class compartment 
where I had ensconced myself to a third-class 
smoker, occupied by a sailor and a stout 
woman with a child. He went off grum- 
bling, and as I mopped my brow I ob- 
served to my companions in my broadest 
Scots that it was a sore job catching trains. I 
had already entered upon my part. 

“The impidence o’ that guard,” said the 
lady bitterly. “He needit a Scotch tongue to 
pit him in his place. He was complainin’ o’ 
this wean no haein’ a ticket and her no fower 
till August twelvemonth, and he was objectin’ 
to this gentleman spittin’.” 



The sailor morosely agreed, and I started 
my new life in an atmosphere of protest 
against authority. I reminded myself that a 
week ago I had been finding the world dull. 




1 HAD a solemn time travelling north that 
day. It was fine May weather, with the 
hawthorn flowering on every hedge, and I 
asked myself why, when I was still a free man, 
I had stayed on in London and not got the 
good of this heavenly country. I didn’t dare 
face the restaurant car, but I got a luncheon 
basket at Leeds, and shared it with the fat 
woman. Also I got the morning’s papers, 
with news about starters for the Derby and 
the beginning of the cricket season, and some 
paragraphs about how Balkan affairs were 
settling down and a British squadron was go- 
ing to Kiel. When I had done with them I 
got out Scudder’s little black pocket-book and 
studied it. It was pretty well filled with jot- 
tings, chiefly figures, though now and then a 
name was printed in. For example, I found 


the words “Hofgaard,” “Luneville,” and 
^‘Avocado” pretty often, and especially the 
word “Pavia.” 

Now I was certain that Scudder never did 
anything without a reason, and I was pretty 
sure that there was a cipher in all this. That 
is a subject which has always interested me, 
and I did a bit at it myself once as intelligence- 
officer at Delagoa Bay during the Boer War. 
I have a head for things like chess and puz- 
zles, and I used to reckon myself pretty good 
at finding out ciphers. This one looked like 
the numerical kind where sets of figures cor- 
respond to the letters of the alphabet, but any 
fairly shrewd man can find the clue to that 
sort after an hour or two’s work, and I didn’t 
think Scudder would have been content with 
anything so easy. So I fastened on the printed 
words, for you can make a pretty good nu- 
merical cipher if you have a key word which 
gives you the sequence of the letters. I tried 
for hours, but none of the words answered. 

Then I fell asleep and woke at Dumfries 
just in time to bundle out and get into the slow 


Galloway train. There was a man on the 
platform whose looks I didn’t like, but he 
never glanced at me, and when I caught sight 
of myself in the mirror of an automatic ma- 
chine, I didn’t wonder. With my brown face, 
my old tweeds and my slouch I was the very 
model of one of the hill farmers who were 
crowding into the third-class carriages. 

I travelled with half a dozen in an atmos- 
phere of shag and clay pipes. They had come 
from the weekly market, and their mouths 
were full of prices. I heard accounts of how 
the lambing had gone up the Cairn and the 
Deuch and a dozen other mysterious waters. 
Above half the men had lunched heavily 
and were highly flavoured with whisky, but 
they took no notice of me. We rumbled slow- 
ly into a land of little wooded glens and then 
to a great, wide moorland place, gleaming 
with lochs, with high, blue hills showing 

About five o’clock the carriage had emp- 
tied and I was left alone as I had hoped. I 
got out at the next station, a little place whose 



name I scarcely noted, set right in the heart 
of a bog. It reminded me of one of those for- 
gotten little stations in the Karroo. An old 
station-master was digging in his garden, 
and with his spade over his shoulder saun- 
tered to the train, took charge of a parcel 
and went back to his potatoes. A child of 
ten received my ticket, and I emerged on 
a white road that straggled over the brown 

It was a gorgeous spring evening, with 
every hill showing as clear as a cut amethyst. 
The air had the queer rooty smell of bogs, 
but it was as fresh as mid-ocean, and it had 
the strangest effect on my spirits. I actually 
felt light-hearted. I might have been a boy 
out for a spring holiday tramp, instead of a 
man of thirty-seven, very much wanted by the 
police. I felt just as I used to feel when I was 
starting for a big trek on a frosty morning on 
the high veld. If you believe me, I swung 
along that road whistling. There was no plan 
of campaign in my head, only just to go on 
and on in this blessed honest-smelling hill 


country, for every mile put me in better hu- 
mour with myself. 

In a roadside planting I cut a walking stick 
of hazel, and presently struck off the highway 
up a by-path which followed the glen of a 
brawling stream. I reckoned that I was still 
far ahead of any pursuit, and for that night 
might please myself. It was some hours since 
I had tasted food, and I was getting very 
hungry when I came to a herd’s cottage set 
in a nook beside a waterfall. A brown-faced 
woman was standing by the door, and greeted 
me with the kindly shyness of moorland 
places. When I asked for a night’s lodging 
she said I was welcome to the “bed in the 
loft,” and very soon she set before me a hearty 
meal of ham and eggs, scones, and thick sweet 
milk. At the darkening her man came in 
from the hills, a lean giant who in one step 
covered as much ground as three paces of 
ordinary mortals. They asked no questions, 
for they had the perfect breeding of all dwel- 
lers in the wilds, but I could see they set me 
down as some kind of dealer, and I took some 



trouble to confirm their view. I spoke a lot 
about cattle, of which my host knew little, and 
I picked up from him a good deal about the 
local Galloway markets, which I tucked away 
in my memory for future use. At ten I was 
nodding in my chair, and the “bed in the loft” 
received a weary man, who never opened his 
eyes till five o’clock set the little homestead 
a-going once more. 

They refused any payment, and by six I had 
breakfasted and was striding southwards 
again. My notion was to return to the railway 
line a station or two further on than the place 
where I had alighted yesterday and to double 
back. I reckoned that was the safest way, 
for the police would naturally assume that I 
was always making further from London in 
the direction of some western port. I thought 
I had still a good bit of a start, for, as I rea- 
soned, it would take some hours to fix the 
blame on me and several more to identify the 
fellow who got on board the train at St. Pan- 

It was the same jolly clear spring weather 



and I simply could not contrive to feel care- 
worn. Indeed, I was in better spirits than 
I had been for months. Over a long ridge of 
moorland I took my road, skirting the side of 
a high hill which the herd had called Cairns- 
more of Fleet. Nestling curlews and plovers 
were crying ever5rwhere and the links of green 
pasture by the streams were dotted with young 
lambs. All the slackness of the past months 
was slipping from my bones and I stepped out 
like a four-year-old. By and by I came to a 
swell of moorland which dipped to the vale 
of a little river, and a mile away in the heather 
I saw the smoke of a train. 

The station, when I reached it, proved to 
be ideal for my purpose. The moor surged 
up around it and left room only for the single 
line, the slender siding, a waiting-room, an 
office, the station-master’s cottage, and a tiny 
yard of gooseberries and sweet-william. 
There seemed no road to it from anywhere, 
and to increase the desolation the waves of a 
tarn lapped on their grey granite beach half 
a mile away. I waited in the deep heather till 


I saw the smoke of an east-going train on 
the horizon. Then I approached the tiny 
booking-office and took a ticket for Dum- 

The only occupants of the carriage were an 
old shepherd and his dog — a wall-eyed brute 
that I mistrusted. The man was asleep and 
on the cushions beside him was that morning’s 
Scotsman, Eagerly I seized on it, for I fan- 
cied it would tell me something. 

There were two columns about the Portland 
Place murder, as it was called. My man Pad- 
dock had given the alarm and had the milk- 
man arrested. Poor devil, it looked as if the 
latter had earned his sovereign hardly; but 
for me he had been cheap at the price, for he 
seemed to have occupied the police the better 
part of the day. In the §top-press news I 
found a further installment of the story. 
The milkman had been released, I read, 
and the true criminal, about whose identity 
the police were reticent, was believed to have 
got away from London by one of the northern 
lines. There was a short note about me as 


the owner of the flat. I guessed the police 
had stuck that in, as a clumsy contrivance to 
persuade me that I was unsuspected. 

There was nothing else in the paper, noth- 
ing about foreign politics or Karolides or the 
things that had interested Scudder. I laid it 
down, and found that we were approaching 
the station at which I had got out yesterday. 
The potato-digging station-master had been 
gingered up into some activity, for the west- 
going train was waiting to let us pass and 
from it had descended three men who were 
asking him questions. I supposed that they 
were the local police who had been stirred up 
by Scotland Yard and had traced me as far 
as this one-horse siding. Sitting well back 
in the shadow I watched them carefully. One 
of them had a book and took down notes. 
The old potato-digger seemed to have turned 
peevish, but the child who had collected my 
ticket was talking volubly. All the party 
looked out across the moor where the white 
road departed. I hoped they were going to 
take up my tracks there. 


As we moved away from that station my 
companion woke up. He fixed me with a 
wondering glance, kicked his dog viciously 
and inquired where he was. Clearly he was 
very drunk. 

‘That’s what comes o’ bein’ a teetotaler,” ^ 
he observed in bitter regret. 

I expressed my surprise that in him I should 
have met a blue-ribbon stalwart. 

“Aye, but I’m a strong teetotaler,” he said 
pugnaciously. “I took the pledge last Mar- 
tinmass, and I havena touched a drop o’ 
whisky sinsyne. No even at Hogmanay, 
though I was sair tempted.” 

He swung his heels up on the seat and bur- 
rowed a frowsy head into the cushions. 

“And that’s a’ I get,” he moaned. “A heid 
better than hell fire and twae een lookin’ dif- 
ferent ways for the Sabbath.” 

“What did it?” I asked. 

“A drink they ca’ brandy. Bein’ a teeto- 
taler, I keepit off the whisky, but I was nip- 
nippin’ a’ day yestereen at this brandy, and I 
doubt I’ll no be weel for a fortnicht.” 



His voice died away into a stutter, and sleep 
once more laid its heavy hand on him. 

My plan had been to get out at some station 
down the line, but the train suddenly gave me 
a better chance, for it came to a standstill at 
the end of a culvert which spanned a brawling 
porter-coloured river. I looked out and saw 
that every carriage window was closed and no 
human figure appeared in the landscape. So 
I opened the door, and dropped quickly into 
the tangle of hazels which edged the line. 

It would have been all right but for that 
infernal dog. Under the impression that I 
was decamping with its master’s belongings, it 
started to bark and all but got me by the 
trousers. This woke up the herd who stood 
bawling at the carriage door in the belief that 
I had committed suicide. I crawled through 
the thicket, reached the edge of the stream, 
and in cover of the bushes put a hundred yards 
or so behind me. Then from my shelter I 
peered back, and saw that the guard and sev- 
eral passengers gathered round the open car- 
riage door and stared in my direction. I 



could not have made a more public^ depart- 
ure if I had left with a bugler and a brass 

Happily the drunken herd provided a di- 
version. He and his dog, which was attached 
by a rope to his waist, suddenly cascaded out 
of the carriage, landed on their heads on the 
track, and rolled some way down the bank to- 
wards the water. In the rescue which fol- 
lowed, the dog bit somebody, for I could hear 
the sound of hard swearing. Presently they 
had forgotten me, and when after a quarter 
of a mile’s crawl I ventured to look back, the 
train had started again and was vanishing in 
the cutting. 

I was in a wide semi-circle of moorland, 
with the brown river as radius, and the high 
hills forming the northern circumference. 
There was not a sign or sound of a human be- 
ing, only the plashing water and the inter- 
minable crying of curlews. Yet, oddly 
enough, for the first time I felt the terror of 
the hunted on me. It was not the police 
that I thought of, but the other folk, who 


knew that I knew Scudder’s secret and dared 
not let me live. I was certain that they would 
pursue me with a keenness and vigilance un- 
known to the British law, and that once their 
grip closed on me I should find no mercy. 

I looked back, but there was nothing in the 
landscape. The sun glinted on the metals of 
the line and the wet stones in the stream, and 
you could not have found a more peaceful 
sight in the world. Nevertheless, I started to 
run. Crouching low in the runnels of the bog, 
I ran till the sweat blinded my eyes. The 
mood did not leave me till I had reached the 
rim of mountain and flung myself panting 
on a ridge high above the young waters of the 
brown river. 

From my vantage ground I could scan the 
whole moor right away to the railway line 
and to the south of it where green fields took 
the place of heather. I have eyes like a hawk, 
but I could see nothing moving in the whole 
countryside. Then I looked east beyond the 
ridge and saw a new kind of landscape — shal- 
low green valleys with plentiful fir planta- 


tions and the faint lines of dust which spoke 
of highroads. Last of all I looked into the 
blue May sky, and there I saw that which set 
my pulses racing. Low down in the south 
a monoplane was climbing into the heavens. 
I was as certain as if I had been told that that 
aeroplane was looking for me, and that it did 
not belong to the police. For an hour or two 
I watched it from a pit of heather. It flew 
low along the hill-tops and then in nar- 
row circles back over the valley up which 
I had come. Then it seemed to change its 
mind, rose to a great height and flew away 
back to the south. 

I did not like this espionage from the air, 
and I began to think less well of the country- 
side I had chosen for a refuge. These heather 
hills were no sort of cover if my enemies were 
in the sky, and I must find a different kind of 
sanctuary. I looked with more satisfaction 
to the green country beyond the ridge, for 
there I should find woods and stone houses. 

About six in the evening I came out of the 
moorland to a white ribbon of road which 


wound up the narrow vale of a lowland 
stream. As I followed it, fields gave place to 
bent, the glen became a plateau, and pres- 
ently I had reached a kind of pass, where a 
solitary house smoked in the twilight. The 
road swung over a bridge and leaning on the 
parapet was a man. 

He was smoking a long clay pipe and study- 
ing the water with spectacled eyes. In his 
left hand was a small book with a finger 
marking the place. Slowly he repeated — 

“As when a Gryphon through the wilderness, 

With winged step, o’er hill and moory dale 
Pursues the Arimaspian.” 

He jumped round as my step rung on the 
keystone, and I saw a pleasant, sunburnt, boy- 
ish face. 

^^Good evening to you,” he said gravely. 
“It’s a fine night for the road.” 

The smell of wood smoke and of some sav- 
oury roast floated to me from the house. “Is 
that place an inn?” I asked. 

“At your service,” he said politely. “I am 
the landlord, sir, and I hope you will stay the 


night, for to tell you the truth I have had no 
company for a week.” 

I pulled myself up on the parapet of the 
bridge and filled my pipe. I began to detect 
an ally. 

“You’re young to be an innkeeper,” I 

“My father died a year ago and left me the 
business. I live there with my grandmother. 
It’s a slow job for a young man, and it wasn’t 
my choice of profession.” 

“Which was?” 

He actually blushed. “I want to write 
books,” he said. 

“And what better chance could you ask?” I 
cried. “Man, I’ve often thought that an inn- 
keeper would make the best story-teller in the 

“Not now,” he said eagerly. “Maybe in 
the old days when you had pilgrims and bal- 
lad-makers and highwaymen and mail- 
coaches on the road; but not now. Nothing 
comes here but motor-cars full of fat women, 
who stop for lunch, and a fisherman or two 



in the spring, and the shooting tenant in Au- 
gust. There is not much material to be got 
out of that. I want to see life, to travel the 
world, and write things like Kipling and Con- 
rad. But the most I Ve done yet is to get some 
verses printed in Chambers^ Journal/' 

I looked at the inn, standing golden in the 
sunset against the wine-red hills. 

‘TVe knocked a bit about the world and I 
wouldn’t despise such a hermitage. D’you 
think that adventure is found only in the trop- 
ics or among gentry in red shirts? Maybe 
you’re rubbing shoulders with it at this mo- 

“That’s what Kipling says,” he said, his 
eyes lightening, and he quoted some verse 
about “Romance bringing up the nine-fif- 

“Here’s a true tale for you then,” I cried, 
“and a month hence you can make a novel out 
of it.” 

Sitting on the bridge in the soft May gloam- 
ing, I pitched him a lovely yarn. It was true 
in essentials, too, though I altered the minor 


details. I made out that I was a mining mag- 
nate from Kimberley, who had a lot of trou- 
ble with I. D. B. and had shown up a 
gang. They had pursued me across the ocean 
and had killed my best friend and were now 
on my tracks. 

I told the story well, though I say it who 
shouldn’t. I pictured a flight across the 
Kalahari to German Africa, the crackling, 
parching days, the wonderful blue-velvet 
nights. I described an attack on my life on 
the voyage home, and I made a really horrid 
affair of the Portland Place murder. 

“You’re looking for adventure,” I cried. 
“Well, you’ve found it here. The devils are 
after me, and the police are after them. It’s 
a race that I mean to win.” 

“By God,” he whispered, drawing his 
breath in sharply, “it is all pure Rider Hag- 
gard and Conan Doyle.” 

“You believe me,” I said gratefully. 

“Of course I do,” and he held out his hand. 
“I believe everything out of the common. The 
only thing to distrust is the normal.” 



He was very young, but he was the man for 
my money. 

“I think they’re off my track for the rAo- 
ment, but I must lie close for a couple of days. 
Can you take me in?” 

He caught my elbow in his eagerness and 
drew me towards the house. ‘^You can lie as 
snug here as if you were in a moss-hole. I’ll 
see that nobody blabs, either. And you’ll give 
me some more material about your adven- 

As I entered the inn porch I heard from far 
off the beat of an engine. There silhouetted 
against the dusky west was my friend, the 

He gave me a room at the back of the house 
with a fine outlook over the plateau and he 
made me free of his own study, which was 
stacked with cheap editions of his favourite 
authors. I never saw the grandmother, so I 
guessed she was bed-ridden. An old woman 
called Margit brought me my meals, and 
the innkeeper was around me at all hours. 



I wanted some time to myself, so I invented 
a job for him. He had a motor bicycle, and I 
sent him off next morning for the daily paper, 
which usually arrived with the post in the 
late afternoon. I told him to keep his eyes 
skinned, and make note of any strange figures 
he saw, keeping a special sharp lookout for 
motors and aeroplanes. Then I sat down in 
real earnest to Scudder’s note-book. 

He came back at midday with the Scotsman, 
There was nothing in it except some further 
evidence of Paddock and the milkman, and a 
repetition of yesterday’s statement that the 
murderer had gone north. But there was a 
long article, reprinted from the Times, about 
Karolides and the state of affairs in the Bal- 
kans, though there was no mention of any visit 
to England. I got rid of the innkeeper for the 
afternoon, for I was getting very warm in my 
search for the cipher. 

As I told you, it was a numerical cipher, 
and by an elaborate system of experiments I 
had pretty well discovered what were the nulls 
and stops. The trouble was the key word, and 


when I thought of the odd million words he 
might have used I felt pretty hopeless. But 
about three o’clock I had a sudden inspira- 

The name Julia Czechenyi flashed across 
my memory. Scudder had said it was the key 
to the Karolides business and it occurred to 
me to try it on his cipher. 

It worked. The five letters of gave 

me the position of the vowels. A was J, the 
tenth letter of the alphabet, and so represented 
by X in the cipher. E was U = XXI and so 
on. ^^Czechenyi” gave me the numerals for 
the principal consonants. I scribbled that 
scheme on a bit of paper and sat down to read 
Scudder’s pages. 

In half an hour I was reading with a whit- 
ish face and fingers that drummed on the table. 
I glanced out of the window and saw a big 
touring-car coming up the glen towards the 
inn. It drew up at the door and there was 
the sound of people alighting. There seemed 
to be two of them, men in acquascutums and 
tweed caps. 



Ten minutes later the innkeeper slipped 
into the room, his eyes bright with excite- 

^^There’s two chaps below looking for you,” 
he whispered. “They’re in the dining-room 
having whiskys and sodas. They asked about 
you and said they had hoped to meet you here. 
Oh! and they described you jolly well, down 
to your boots and shirt. I told them you had 
been here last night and had gone off on a 
motor bicycle this morning, and one of the 
chaps swore like a navvy.” 

I made him tell me what they looked like. 
One was a dark-eyed, thin fellow with 
bushy eyebrows, the other was always smiling 
and lisped in his talk. Neither was any kind 
of foreigner; on this my young friend was 

I took a bit of paper and wrote these words 
in German as if they were part of a letter: 

. . Black Stone. Scudder had got on to this, but 
he could not act for a fortnight. I doubt if I can do any 
good now, especially as Karolides is uncertain about his 
plans. But if Mr. T. advises I will do the best I . . .” 



I manufactured it rather neatly, so that it 
looked like a loose page of a private letter. 

“Take this down and say it was found in 
my bedroom and ask them to return it to me 
if they overtake me.” 

Three minutes later I heard the car begin 
to move, and peeping from behind the curtain, 
caught sight of the two figures. One was slim, 
the other was sleek; that was the most I could 
make of my reconnaissance. 

The innkeeper appeared in great excite-^ 
ment. “Your paper woke them up,” he said 
gleefully. “The dark fellow went as white as 
death and cursed like blazes, and the fat one 
whistled and looked ugly. They paid for 
their drinks with half a sovereign and 
wouldn’t wait for change.” 

“Now I’ll tell you what I want you to do,” 
I said. “Get on your bicycle and go off to 
Newtown Stewart to the chief constable. De- 
scribe the two men, and say you suspect them 
of having had something to do with the Lon- 
don murder. You can invent reasons. The 
two will come back, never fear. Not to-night, 


for they’ll follow me forty miles along the 
road, but first thing to-morrow morning. Tell 
the police to be here bright and early.” 

He set off like a docile child, while I 
worked at Scudder’s notes. When he came 
back we dined together and in common de- 
cency I had to let him pump me. I gave 
him a lot of stuff about lion hunts and the 
Matabele War, thinking all the while what 
tame businesses these were compared to this 
I was now engaged in. When he went to bed 
I sat up and finished Scudder. I smoked in a 
chair till daylight, for I could not sleep. 

About eight next morning I witnessed the 
arrival of two constables and a sergeant. They 
put their car in a coach-house under the inn- 
keeper’s instructions and entered the house. 
Twenty minutes later I saw from my window 
a second car come across the plateau from the 
opposite direction. It did not come up to 
the inn, but stopped two hundred yards off 
in the shelter of a patch of wood. I noticed 
that its occupants carefully reversed it before 
leaving it. A minute or two later I heard 



their steps on the gravel outside the window. 
My plan had been to lie hid in my bed- 
room, and see what happened. I had a notion 
that, if I could bring the police and my other 
more dangerous pursuers together, something 
might work out of it to my advantage. But 
now I had a better idea. I scribbled a line of 
thanks to my host, opened the window and 
dropped quietly into a gooseberry bush. Un- 
observed I crossed the dike, crawled down 
the side of a tributary burn, and won the 
highroad on the far side of the patch of 
trees. There stood the car, very spick and 
span in the morning sunlight, but with the 
dust on her which told of a long journey. I 
started her, jumped into the chauffeur’s seat, 
and stole gently out on to the plateau. Al- 
most at once the road dipped so that I 
lost sight of the inn, but the wind seemed to 
bring me the sound of angry voices. 




Y OU may picture me driving that forty- 
horse-power car for all she was worth 
over the crisp moor roads on that shining May 
morning ; glancing back at first over my shoul- 
der and looking anxiously to the next turning; 
then driving with a vague eye, just wide 
enough awake to keep on the highway. 
For I was thinking desperately of what I 
had found in Scudder’s pocket-book. 

The little man had told me a pack of lies. 
All his yarns about the Balkans and the Jew- 
anarchists and the Foreign Office conference 
were eye-wash, and so was Karolides. And 
yet not quite, as you shall hear. I had staked 
everything on my belief in his story and had 
been let down ; here was his book telling me 
a different tale, and instead of being once-bit- 


twice-shy, I believed it absolutely. Why? I 
don’t know. 

It rang desperately true, and the first yarn, 
if you understand me, had been in a queer 
way true also in spirit. The fifteenth day of 
June was going to be a day of destiny, a bigger 
destiny than the killing of a Dago. It was so 
big that I didn’t blame Scudder for keeping 
me out of the game, and wanting to play a lone 
hand. That, I was pretty clear, was his inten- 
tion. He had told me something which sound- 
ed big enough, but the real thing was so im- 
mortally big that he, the man who had found 
it out, wanted it all for himself. I didn’t 
blame him. It was risks after all that he was 
chiefly greedy about. 

The whole story was in the notes — with 
gaps, you understand, which he would have 
filled up from his memory. He stuck down 
his authorities too, and had an odd trick of 
giving them all a numerical value and then 
striking a balance, which stood for the reli- 
ability of each stage in the yarn. The three 
names he had printed were authorities, and 


there was a man, Ducrosne, who got five 
out of a possible five, and another fellow, 
Ammersfoort, who got three. The bare bones 
of the tale were all that was in the book — 
that, and one queer phrase which occurred 
half a dozen times inside brackets. ‘^Thirty- 
nine steps” was the phrase, and at its last time 
of use it ran — “Thirty-nine steps I counted 
them; high tide 10:17 P-M.” I could make 
nothing of that. 

The first thing I learned was that it was no 
question of preventing a war. That was com- 
ing, as sure as Christmas, had been arranged, 
said Scudder, ever since February, 1912. 
Karolides was going to be the occasion. 
He was booked all right and was to hand 
in his checks on June 14th, two weeks and 
four days from that May morning. I gathered 
from Scudder’s notes that nothing on earth 
could prevent that. His talk of Epirote 
guards that would skin their own grand- 
mother was all billy-o. 

The second thing was that this war was go- 
ing to come as a mighty surprise to Britain. 


Karolides’ death would set the Balkans by 
the ears, and then Vienna would chip in with 
an ultimatum. Russia wouldn’t like that, and 
there would be high words. But Berlin 
would play the peacemaker and pour oil 
on the waters, till suddenly she would find 
a good cause for a qua^rrel, pick it up, and 
in five hours let fly at us. That was the idea, 
and a pretty good one too. Honey and fair 
speeches and then a stroke in the dark. 
While we were talking about the good will 
and good intentions of Germany, our coast 
would be silently ringed with mines, and sub- 
marines would be waiting for every battleship. 

But all this depended upon the third thing 
which was due to happen on June 15th. I 
would never have grasped this, if I hadn’t 
once happened to meet a French staff officer, 
coming back from West Africa, who had told 
me a lot of things. One was that in spite of all 
the nonsense talked in Parliament there was a 
real working alliance betwxen France and 
Britain, and that the two General Staffs met 
every now and then and made plans for joint 


action in time of war. Well, in June, a very 
great swell was coming over from Paris, and 
he was going to get nothing less than a 
statement of the disposition of the British 
home fleet on mobilisation. At least I gath- 
ered it was something like that; anyhow, 
it was something uncommonly important. 
But on the 15th day of June there were 
to be others in London — others at whom 
I could only guess. Scudder was content to 
call them collectively the ‘‘Black Stone.” 
They represented not our allies, but our dead- 
ly foes, and the information, destined for 
France, was to be diverted to their pockets. 
And it was to be used, remember — used a week 
or two later, with great guns and swift tor- 
pedoes, suddenly in the darkness of a summer 

This was the story I had been deciphering 
in a back room of a country inn, overlooking 
a cabbage garden. This was the story that 
hummed in my brain, as I swung in the big 
touring-car from glen to glen. 

My first impulse had been to write a letter 



to the Prime Minister, but a little reflection 
convinced me that that would be useless. 
Who would believe my tale? I must show a 
sign, some token in proof, and Heaven knew 
what that could be. Above all I must keep 
going myself, ready to act when things got 
riper, and that was going to be no light job 
with the police of the British Isles in full cry 
after me, and the watchers of the Black Stone 
running silently and swiftly on my trail. 

I had no very clear purpose in my journey, 
but I steered east by the sun, for I remem- 
bered from the map that if I went north I 
would come into a region of coal-pits and in- 
dustrial towns. Presently I was down from 
the moorlands and traversing the broad haugh 
of a river. For miles I ran alongside a park 
wall, and in a break of the trees I saw a great 
castle. I swung through little old thatched 
villages, and over peaceful lowland streams, 
and past gardens blazing with hawthorn and 
yellow laburnum. The land was so deep in 
peace that I could scarcely believe that some- 
where behind me were those who sought my 


life; ay, and that in a month’s time, unless I 
had the almightiest of luck, these round, 
country faces would be pinched and staring, 
and men would be lying dead in English 

About midday I entered a long straggling 
village, and had a mind to stop and eat. Half- 
way down was the post-office, and on the steps 
of it stood the post-mistress and a policeman 
hard at work conning a telegram. When 
they saw me they wakened up, and the 
policeman advanced with raised hand and 
cried on me to stop. 

I nearly was fool enough to obey. Then it 
flashed upon me that the wire had to do with 
me, that my friends at the inn had come to an 
understanding and were united in desiring to 
see more of me, and that it had been easy 
enough for them to wire the description of 
me and the car to thirty villages through 
which I might pass. I released the brakes 
just in time. As it was the policeman made a 
claw at the hood and only dropped off when 
he got my left in his eye. 



I saw that main roads were no place for 
me, and turned into the byways. It wasn’t 
an easy job without a map, for there was the 
risk of getting onto a farm road and ending 
in a duck-pond or a stable-yard, and I 
couldn’t afford that kind of delay. I began 
to see what an ass I had been to steal the car. 
The big green brute would be the safest 
kind of clue to me over the breadth of Scot- 
land. If I left it and took to my feet, it would 
be discovered in an hour or two and I would 
get no start in the race. 

The immediate thing to do was to get to 
the loneliest roads. These I soon found when 
I struck up a tributary of the big river, and 
got into a glen which climbed over a pass. 
Here I met nobody, but it was taking me 
too far north, so I slewed east along a bad 
track and finally struck a big double-line rail- 
way. Away below me I saw another broadish 
valley, and it occurred to me that if I crossed 
it I might find some remote hostelry to pass 
the night. The evening was now drawing in, 
and I was furiously hungry, for I had eaten 


nothing since breakfast except a couple of 
buns I had bought from a baker’s cart. 

Just then I heard a noise in the sky, and lo 
and behold there was that infernal aeroplane, 
flying low, about a dozen miles to the south 
and rapidly coming towards me. 

I had the sense to remember that on a bare 
moor I was at the aeroplane’s mercy, and that 
my only chance was to get to the leafy cover 
of the valley. Down the hill I went like blue 
lightning, screwing my head round whenever 
I dared, to watch that damned flying machine. 
Soon I was on a road between hedges, and 
dipping to the deep-cut glen of a stream. 
Then came a bit of thick wood, where I 
slackened speed. 

Suddenly on my left I heard the hoot of 
another car and realised to my horror that I 
was almost upon a couple of gate-posts 
through which a private road debouched on 
the highway. My horn gave an agonised 
roar, but it was too late. I clapped on my 
brakes, but my impetus was too great, and 
there before me a car was sliding athwart my 



course. In a second there would have been 
the deuce of a wreck. I did the only thing 
possible, and ran slap into the hedge on the 
right trusting to find something soft beyond. 

But there I was mistaken. My car slithered 
through the hedge like butter and then gave 
a sickening plunge forward. I saw what was 
coming, leaped on the seat and would have 
jumped out. But a branch of hawthorn got 
me in the chest, lifted me up and held me, 
while a ton or two of expensive metal slipped 
below me, bucked and pitched, and then 
dropped with an almighty smash fifty feet to 
the bed of the stream. 

Slowly that thorn let me go. I subsided 
first on the hedge, and then very gently on 
a bower of nettles. As I scrambled to my 
feet a hand took me by the arm, and a 
sympathetic and badly scared voice asked me 
if I were hurt. 

I found myself looking at a tall young man 
in goggles and a leather ulster who kept on 
blessing his soul and whinnying apologies. 



For myself, once I got my wind back, I was 
rather glad than otherwise. This was one way 
of getting rid of the car. 

“My blame, sir,” I answered him. “It’s 
lucky that I did not add homicide to my fol- 
lies. That’s the end of my Scotch motor tour, 
but it might have been the end of my life.” 

He plucked out a watch and studied it. 

“You’re the right sort of fellow,” he said. 
“I can spare a quarter of an hour, and my 
house is two minutes off. I’ll see you clothed 
and fed and snug in bed. Where’s your kit, 
by the way? Is it in the burn along with the 

“It’s in my pocket,” I said, brandishing a 
tooth-brush. “I’m a colonial and travel 

“A colonial,” he cried. “By Gad, you’re 
the very man I’ve been praying for. Are you 
by any blessed chance a Free Trader?” 

“I am,” said I, without the foggiest notion 
of what he meant. 

He patted my shoulder and hurried me into 
his car. Three minutes later we drew up be- 



fore a comfortable-looking shooting-box set 
among pine trees, and he ushered me in-doors. 
He took me first to a bedroom and flung half 
a dozen of his suits before me, for my own 
had been pretty well reduced to rags. I se- 
lected a loose blue serge, which differed most 
conspicuously from my own garments, and 
borrowed a linen collar. Then he haled me to 
the dining-room, where the remnants of a 
meal stood on the table, and announced that 
I had just five minutes to feed. ^^You can 
take a snack in your pocket, and we’ll have 
supper when we get back. I’ve got to be at 
the Masonic Hall at eight o’clock or my 
agent will comb my hair.” 

I had a cup of coffee and some cold ham, 
while he yarned away on the hearth-rug. 

^‘You find me in the deuce of a mess, Mr. 

; by the by you haven’t told me your 

name. Twisden? Any relation of old 
Tommy Twisden of the Sixtieth? No. Well, 
you see I’m Liberal candidate for this part of 
the world, and I had a meeting on to-night at 
Brattleburn — that’s my chief town, and an 



infernal Tory stronghold. I had got the 
Colonial ex-Premier fellow, Crumpleton, 
coming to speak for me to-night, and had 
the thing tremendously billed and the whole 
place ground-baited. This afternoon I got 
a wire from the ruffian saying he has got 
influenza at Blackpool, and here am I left to 
do the whole thing myself. I had meant to 
speak for ten minutes and must now go on for 
forty, and, though I’ve been racking my brains 
for three hours to think of something, I simply 
cannot last the course. Now you’ve got to be 
a good chap and help me. You’re a Free 
Trader and can tell our people what a wash- 
out Protection is in the Colonies. All you 
fellows have the gift of the gab — I wish to 
Heaven I had it. I’ll be for evermore in 
your debt.” 

I had very few notions about free trade one 
way or the other, but I saw no other chance 
to get what I wanted. My young gentleman 
was far too absorbed in his own difficulties 
to think how odd it was to ask a stranger who 
had just missed death by an ace and had lost 



a one-thousand-guinea car to address a meet- 
ing for him on the spur of the moment. But 
my necessities did not allow me to contem- 
plate oddnesses or to pick and choose my sup- 

“All right,” I said. “Fm not much good 
as a speaker, but Fll tell them a bit about 

At my words the cares of the ages slipped 
from his shoulders and he was rapturous in 
his thanks. He lent me a big driving coat — 
and never troubled to ask why I had started on 
a motor tour without possessing an ulster — 
and as we slipped down the dusty roads 
poured into my ears the simple facts of his 
history. He was an orphan and his uncle had 
brought him up — IVe forgotten the uncle’s 
name, but he was in the Cabinet and you can 
read his speeches in the papers. He had gone 
round the world after leaving Cambridge, 
and then, being short of a job, his uncle had 
advised politics. I gathered that he had no 
preference in parties. “Good chaps in both,” 
he said cheerfully, “and plenty of blighters, 


too. I’m Liberal, because my family have al- 
ways been Whigs.” But if he was lukewarm 
politically he had strong views on other things. 
He found out I knew a bit about horses, and 
jawed away about the Derby entries; and he 
was full of plans for improving his shooting. 
Altogether, a very clean, decent, callow young 

As we passed through a little town two po- 
licemen signalled us to stop, and flashed their 
lanterns on us. “Beg pardon. Sir Harry,” 
said one. “WeVe got instructions to look out 
for a car and the description’s not unlike 

“Right-0,” said my host, while I thanked 
Providence for the devious ways I had been 
brought to safety. After that we spoke no 
more, for my host’s mind began to labour 
heavily with his coming speech. His lips kept 
muttering, his eyes wandered, and I began to 
prepare myself for a second catastrophe. I 
tried to think of something to say myself, but 
my mind was dry as a stone. The next thing 
I knew we had drawn up outside a door in a 



street and were being welcomed by some noisy 
gentlemen with rosettes. 

The hall had about five hundred in it, 
women mostly, a lot of bald heads, and a dozen 
or two young men. The chairman, a weaselly 
minister with a reddish nose, lamented Crum- 
pleton’s absence, soliloquised on his influenza, 
and gave me a certificate as a ‘^trusted leader 
of Australian thought.” There were two po- 
licemen at the door and I hoped they took note 
of that testimonial. Then Sir Harry started. 

I never heard anything like it. He didn’t 
begin to know how to talk. He had about a 
bushel of notes from which he read, and when 
he let go of them he fell into one prolonged 
stutter. Every now and then he remembered 
a phrase he had learned by heart, straightened 
his back, and gave it off like Henry Irving, 
and the next moment he was bent double and 
crooning over his papers. It was the most 
appalling rot, too. He talked about the “Ger- 
man menace,” and said it was all a Tory in- 
vention to cheat the poor of their rights and 
keep back the great flood of social reform, 


but that “organised labour” realised this and 
laughed the Tories to scorn. He was all for 
reducing our navy as a proof of our good faith, 
and then sending Germany an ultimatum tell- 
ing her to do the same or we would knock 
her into a cocked hat. He said that but for 
the Tories, Germany and Britain would be 
fellow workers in peace and reform. I 
thought of the little black book in my pocket! 
A giddy lot Scudder’s friends cared for peace 
and reform. 

Yet in a queer way I liked the speech. You 
could see the niceness of the chap shining out 
behind the muck with which he had been 
spoon-fed. Also it took a load off my mind. 
I mightn’t be much of an orator, but I was a 
thousand per cent better than Sir Harry. I 
didn’t get on so badly when it came to my 
turn. I simply told them all I could remem- 
ber about Australia, praying there should be 
no Australian there — all about its labour party 
and emigration and universal service. I 
doubt if I remembered to mention free 
trade, but I said there were no Tories in 


Australia, only Labour and Liberals. That 
fetched a cheer, and I woke them up a bit 
when I started in to tell them the kind of 
glorious business I thought could be made out 
of the Empire if we really put our backs 
into it. 

Altogether I fancy I was rather a success. 
The minister didn’t like me, though, and when 
he proposed a vote of thanks spoke of Sir 
Harry’s speech as ^^statesmanlike,” and mine 
as having “the eloquence of an emigration 

When we were in the car again my host 
was in wild spirits at having got his job over. 
“A ripping speech, Twisden,” he said. “Now, 
you’re coming home with me. I’m all alone, 
and if you’ll stop a day or two I’ll show you 
some very decent fishing.” 

We had a hot supper — and I wanted it 
pretty badly — and then drank grog in a big, 
cheery smoking-room with a crackling wood 
fire. I thought the time had come for me to 
put my cards on the table. I saw by this 
man’s eye that he was the kind you can trust. 



“Listen, Sir Harry,” I said. “IVe some- 
thing pretty important to say to you. You’re 
a good fellow and I’m going to be frank. 
Where on earth did you get that poisonous 
rubbish you talked to-night?” 

His face fell. “Was it as bad as that?” he 
asked ruefully. “It did sound rather thin. 
I got most of it out of the Progressive Maga- 
zine and pamphlets that agent chap of mine 
keeps sending me. But you surely don’t 
think Germany would ever go to war with 

“Ask that question in six weeks and it won’t 
need an answer,” I said. “If you’ll give me 
your attention for half an hour I am going 
to tell you a story.” 

I can see yet that bright room with the 
deers’ heads and the old prints on the walls. 
Sir Harry standing restlessly on the stone 
curb of the hearth, and myself lying back in 
an armchair, speaking. I seemed to be another 
person, standing aside and listening to my own 
voice, and judging carefully the reliability of 
my tale. It was the first time I had ever told 



any one the exact truth, so far as I understood 
it, and it did me no end of good, for it 
straightened out the thing in my own mind. 
I blinked no detail. He heard all about 
Scudder and the milkman, and the note-book, 
and my doings in Galloway. Presently he 
got very excited and walked up and down 
the hearth-rug. 

“So you see,” I concluded, “you have got 
here in your house the man that is wanted 
for the Portland Place murder. Your duty 
is to send your car for the police and give me 
up. I don’t think I’ll get very far. There’ll 
be an accident and I’ll have a knife in my 
ribs an hour or so after arrest. Nevertheless 
it’s your duty, as a law-abiding citizen. Per- 
haps in a month’s time you’ll be sorry, but 
you have no cause to think of that.” 

He was looking at me with bright, steady 
eyes. “What was your job in Rhodesia, Mr. 
Hannay?” he asked. 

“Mining engineer,” I said. “I’ve made my 
pile cleanly and I’ve had a good time in the 
making of it.” 



“Not a profession that weakens the nerves, 
is it?’’ 

I laughed. “Oh, as to that, my nerves are 
good enough.” I took down a hunting knife 
from a stand on the wall, and did the old 
Mashona trick of tossing it and catching it 
in my lips. That wants a pretty steady 

He watched me with a smile. “I don’t 
want proofs. I may be an ass on a platform, 
but I can size up a man. You’re no murderer 
and you’re no fool, and I believe you are 
speaking the truth. I’m going to back you 
up. Now, what can I do?” 

“First, I want you to write a letter to your 
uncle. I’ve got to get in touch with the gov- 
ernment people some time before the 15th of 

He pulled his moustache. 

“That won’t help you. This is Foreign Of- 
fice business and my uncle would have noth- 
ing to do with it. Besides, you’d never con- 
vince him. No, I’ll go one better. I’ll write 
to the permanent secretary at the Foreign 


Office. He’s my godfather and one of the 
best going. What do you want?” 

He sat down at a table and wrote to my dic- 
tation. The gist of it was that if a man called 
Twisden (I thought I had better stick to that 
name) turned up before June 15th he was to 
treat him kindly. He said Twisden would 
prove his bona fides by passing the word 
‘^Black Stone” and whistling ‘‘Annie Laurie.” 

“Good,” said Sir Harry. “That’s the 
proper style. By the way you’ll find my 
godfather — his name’s Sir Walter Bullivant 
— down at his country cottage for Whitsun- 
tide. It’s close to Artinswell on the Ken- 
net. That’s done. Now, what’s the next 

“You’re about my height. Lend me the 
oldest tweed suit you’ve got. Anything will 
do, so long as the colour is the opposite of the 
clothes I destroyed this afternoon. Then 
show me a map of the neighbourhood and 
explain to me the lie of the land. Lastly, if 
the police come asking about me, just show 
them the car in the glen. If the other lot 


turn up tell them I caught the south express 
after your meeting.” 

He did, or promised to do, all these things. 
I shaved off the remnants of my moustache, 
and got inside an ancient suit of what I be- 
lieve is called heather mixture. The map 
gave me some notion of my whereabouts and 
told me the two things I wanted to know — 
where the main railway to the south could be 
joined and what were the wildest districts 
near at hand. 

At two o’clock he wakened me from my 
slumbers in the smoking-room armchair and 
led me blinking into the dark, starry night. 
An old bicycle was found in a tool-shed and 
handed over to me. 

‘Tirst turn to the right up by the long fir- 
wood,” he enjoined. ^‘By daybreak you’ll be 
well into the hills. Then I should pitch the 
machine into a bog and take to the moors on 
foot. You can put in a week among the shep- 
herds, and be as safe as if you were in New 

I pedalled diligently up steep roads of hill 



gravel till the skies grew pale with morning. 
As the mists cleared before the sun I found 
myself in a wide green world with glens fall- 
ing on every side and a faraway blue horizon. 
Here at any rate I could get early news of my 




1 SAT down on the very crest of the pass 
and took stock of my position. 

Behind me was the road climbing through 
a long cleft in the hills which was the upper 
glen of some notable river. In front was a 
flat space of maybe a mile all pitted with bog- 
holes and rough with tussocks, and then be- 
yond it the road fell steeply down another 
glen to a plain whose blue dimness melted 
into the distance. 

To left and right were round-shouldered,- 
green hills as smooth as pancakes, but to the 
south — that is the left hand— there was a 
glimpse of high heathery mountains which I 
remembered from the map as the big knot 
of hill which I had chosen for my sanctuary. 
I was on the central boss of a huge upland 
country, and could see everything moving for 


miles. In the meadows below the road, half 
a mile back, a cottage smoked, but it was the 
only sign of human life. Otherwise there 
was only the calling of plovers and the tink- 
ling of little streams. 

It was now about seven o’clock, and as I 
waited I heard once again the ominous beat 
in the air. Then I realised that my vantage 
ground might be in reality a trap. There 
was no cover for a tomtit in those bald green 

I sat quite still and hopeless while the beat 
grew louder. Then I saw an aeroplane com- 
ing up from the east. It was flying high, but 
as I looked it dropped several hundred feet 
and began to circle round the knot of hill in 
narrowing circles, just as a hawk wheels be- 
fore it pounces. Now it was flying very low, 
and now the observer on board caught sight 
of me. I could see one of the two occupants 
examining me through glasses. Suddenly it 
began to rise in swift whorls, and the next I 
knew it was speeding eastward again till it 
became a speck in the blue morning. 



That made me do some savage thinking. 
My enemies had located me, and the next 
thing would be a cordon round me. I didn’t 
know what force they could command, but I 
was certain it would be sufficient. The aero- 
plane had seen my bicycle, and would con- 
clude that I would try to escape by the road. 
In that case there might be a chance on 
the moors to the right or left. I wheeled the 
machine a hundred yards from the highway, 
and plunged it into a moss-hole where it 
sank among pond-weed and water-buttercups. 
Then I climbed to a knoll which gave me a 
view of the two valleys. Nothing was stirring 
on the long white ribbon that threaded them. 

I have said there was not cover in the whole 
place to hide a rat. As the day advanced it 
was flooded with soft fresh light till it had 
the fragrant sunniness of the South African 
veld. At other times I should have liked the 
place, but now it seemed to suffocate me. The 
free moorlands were prison-walls, and the 
keen hill-air was the breath of a dungeon. 

I tossed a coin — heads right, tails left — and 



it fell heads, so I turned to the north. In a 
little I came to the brow of the ridge which 
was the containing wall of the pass. I saw 
the highroad for maybe ten miles, and far 
down it something that was moving and that 
I took to be a motor-car. Beyond the ridge 
I looked on a rolling green moor, which fell 
away into wooded glens. Now my life on 
the veld has given me the eyes of a kite, and 
I can see things for which most men need a 
telescope. Away down the slope, a couple of 
miles away, several men were advancing like 
a row of beaters at a shoot. 

I dropped out of sight behind the skyline. 
That way was shut to me, and I must try 
the bigger hills to the south beyond the high- 
way. The car I had noticed was getting near- 
er, but it was still a long road off with some 
very steep gradients before it. I ran hard, 
crouching low except in the hollows, and as 
I ran I kept scanning the brow of hill before 
me. Was it imagination, or did I see figures 
— one, two, perhaps more — moving in a glen 
beyond the stream? 



If you are hemmed in on all sides in a patch 
of land — there is only one chance of escape. 
You must stay in the patch, and let your ene- 
mies search it and not find you. That was 
good sense, but how on earth was I to escape 
notice in that tablecloth of a place? 

I would have buried myself to the neck in 
mud or lain below water or climbed the tall- 
est tree. But there was not a stick of wood, 
the bog-holes were little puddles, the stream 
was a slender trickle. There was nothing but 
short heather and bare hill bent and the white 

Then in a tiny bight of road, beside a heap 
of stones, I found the Roadman. 

He had just arrived, and was wearily fling- 
ing down his hammer. He looked at me with 
a fishy eye and yawned. 

“Confoond the day I ever left the herdin’ !” 
he said as if to the world at large. “There I 
was my ain maister. Now I’m a slave to the 
government, tethered to the roadside, wi’ sair 
een, and a back like a suckle.” 

He took up the hammer, struck a stone, 



dropped the implement with an oath, and put 
both hands to his ears. ^^Mercy on me! My 
heid’s burstin’l” he cried. 

He was a wild figure, about my own size, 
but much bent, with a week’s beard on his 
chin and a pair of big horn spectacles. 

‘T canna dae’t,” he cried again. “The sur- 
veyor maun just report me. I’m for my 

I asked him what was the trouble, though 
indeed that was clear enough. 

“The trouble is that I’m no sober. Last 
nicht my dochter, Merran, was waddit, and 
they danced till fower in the byre. Me and 
some ither chiels sat down to the drinkin’ — 
and here I am. Peety that I ever lookit on 
the wine when it was red!” 

I agreed with him about bed. 

“It’s easy speakin’,” he moaned. “But I 
got a post-caird yestereen sayin’ that the new 
road surveyor would be round the day. He’ll 
come and he’ll no find me, or else he’ll find 
me fou, and either way I’m a done man. I’ll 
awa back to my bed and say I’m no weel, but 



I doot that’ll no help me, for they ken my 
kind o’ no-weelness.” 

Then I had an inspiration. ^^Does the new 
surveyor know you?” I asked. 

^‘No him. He’s just been a week at the job. 
He rins about in a wee motor-car, and wad 
speir the inside oot o’ a whelk.” 

^Where’s your house?” I asked, and was 
directed by a wavering finger to the cottage 
by the stream. 

‘Well, back to your bed,” I said, “and sleep 
in peace. I’ll take on your job for a bit and 
see the surveyor.” 

He stared at me blankly; then, as the notion 
dawned on his fuddled brain, his face broke 
into the vacant drunkard’s smile. 

“You’re the billy,” he cried. “It’ll be easy 
eneuch managed. I’ve finished that bing o’ 
stanes, so you needna chap ony mair this fore- 
noon. Just take the harry, and wheel eneuch 
metal frae yon quarry doon the road to make 
anither bing the morn. 

“My name’s Alexander Turnbull, and I’ve 
been seeven year at this trade, and twenty 


afore that herdin’ on Leithen Water. My 
freends ca’ me Ecky, and whiles Specky, for 
I wear glasses, bein’ weak i’ the sicht Just 
you speak the surveyor fair and ca’ him sir, 
and he’ll be fell pleased. I’ll be back or 

I borrowed his spectacles and filthy old hat ; 
stripped off coat, waistcoat and collar and 
gave him them to carry home ; borrowed, too, 
the foul stump of a clay pipe as an extra 
property. He indicated my simple tasks, and 
without more ado set off at an amble bedwards. 
Bed may have been his chief object, but I think 
there was also something left in the foot of a 
bottle. I prayed that he might be safe under 
cover before my friends arrived on the scene. 

Then I set to work to dress for the part. 
I opened the collar of my shirt — it was a 
vulgar blue-and-white check such as plowmen 
wear — and revealed a neck as brown as any 
tinker’s. I rolled up my sleeves and there 
was a forearm which might have been a black- 
smith’s, sunburnt and rough with old scars. 
I got my boots and trouser-legs all white from 


the dust of the road, and hitched up my trous- 
ers, tying them with string below the knee. 
Then I set to work on my face. With a 
handful of dust I made a water-mark round 
my neck, the place where Mr. TurnbulPs 
Sunday ablutions might be expected to stop. 
I rubbed a good deal of dirt also into the sun- 
burn of my cheeks. A roadman’s eyes would, 
no doubt, be a little inflamed, so I contrived 
to get some dust in both of mine, and by dint 
of vigorous rubbing produced a bleary effect. 

The sandwiches Sir Harry had given me 
had gone off with my coat, but the roadman’s 
lunch, tied up in a red handkerchief, was 
at my disposal. I ate with great relish several 
of the thick slabs of scone and cheese and 
drank a little of the cold tea. In the hand- 
kerchief was a local paper tied with string and 
addressed to Mr. Turnbull — obviously meant 
to solace his midday leisure. I did up the 
bundle again, and put the paper conspicuously 
beside it. 

My boots did not satisfy me, but by dint of 
kicking among the stones I reduced them to 


the granite-like surface which marks a road- 
man’s foot-gear. Then I bit and scraped my 
finger-nails till the edges were all cracked and 
uneven. The men I was matched against 
would miss no detail. I broke one of the boot- 
laces and retied it in a clumsy knot and loosed 
the other so that my thick grey socks bulged 
over the uppers. Still no sign of anything on 
the road. The motor I had observed half an 
hour ago must have gone home. 

My toilet complete, I took up the barrow 
and began my journeys to and from the quarry 
a hundred yards off. I remembered an old 
scout in Rhodesia, who had done many queer 
things in his day, once telling me that the se- 
cret of playing a part was to think yourself 
into it. You could never keep it up, he said, 
unless you could manage to convince yourself 
that you were it. So I shut off all other 
thoughts and switched them on the roadmend- 
ing. I thought of the little white cottage as 
my home, I recalled the years I had spent 
herding on Leithen Water, I made my mind 
dwell lovingly on sleep in a box-bed and a 


bottle of cheap whisky. Still nothing ap- 
peared on that long white road. 

Now and then a sheep wandered off the 
heather to stare at me. A heron flopped down 
to a pool in the stream and started to fish, tak- 
ing no more notice af me than if I had been 
a mile-stone. On I went trundling my loads 
of stone, with the heavy step of the profes- 
sional. Soon I grew warm and the dust on 
my face changed into solid and abiding grit. 
I was already counting the hours till evening 
should put a limit to Mr. Turnbull’s monoto- 
nous toil. 

Suddenly a crisp voice spoke from the road, 
and looking up I saw a little Ford two-seater, 
and a round-faced young man in a bowler 

^^Are you Alexander Turnbull?” he asked. 
‘T am the new county road surveyor. You 
live at Blackhopefoot, and have charge of 
the section from Laidlawbyres to the Riggs? 
Good! A fair bit of road, Turnbull, and not 
badly engineered. A little soft about a mile 
off, and the edges want cleaning. See you 


look after that. Good morning. You’ll know 
me the next time you see me.” 

Clearly my get-up was good enough for 
the dreaded surveyor. I went on with my 
work, and as the morning grew towards noon 
I was cheered by a little traffic. A baker’s 
van breasted the hill, and sold me a bag of gin- 
ger biscuits which I stowed in my trouser- 
pockets against emergencies. Then a herd 
passed with sheep, and disturbed me some- 
what by asking loudly, “What had become o’ 

“In bed wi’ the colic,” I replied, and the 
herd passed on. 

Just about midday a big car stole down the 
hill, glided past and drew up a hundred yards 
beyond. Its three occupants descended as if 
to stretch their legs, and sauntered toward 

Two of the men I had seen before from 
the window of the Galloway inn — one lean, 
sharp and dark, the other comfortable and 
smiling. The third had the look of a coun- 
tryman — a vet, perhaps, or a small farmer. 


He was dressed in ill-cut knickerbockers, and 
the eye in his head was as bright and wary 
as a hen’s. 

’Morning,” said the last. “That’s a fine 
easy job o’ yours.” 

I had not looked up on their approach, and 
now, when accosted, I slowly and painfully 
straightened my back, after the manner of 
roadmen; spat vigorously, after the manner 
of the low Scot; and regarded them steadily 
before replying. I confronted three pairs of 
eyes that missed nothing. 

“There’s waur jobs and there’s better,” I 
said sententiously. “I wad rather hae yours, 
sittin’ a’ day on your hinderlands on thae 
cushions. It’s you and your muckle cawrs 
that wreck my roads! If we a’ had oor 
richts, you sud be made to mend what ye 

The bright-eyed man was looking at the 
newspaper lying beside Turnbull’s bundle. 

“I see you get your papers in good time,” 
he said. 

I glanced at it casually. “Aye, in gude 


time. Seein’ that that paper cam out last Sat- 
terday, I’m just lower days late.” 

He picked it up, glanced at the superscrip- 
tion and laid it down again. One of the 
others had been looking at my boots, and a 
word in German called the speaker’s attention 
to them. 

‘‘You’ve a fine taste in boots,” he said. 
“These were never made by a country shoe- 

“They were not,” I said readily. “They 
were made in London. I got them frae the 
gentleman that was here last year for the 
shootin’. What was his name now?” And I 
scratched a forgetful head. 

Again the sleek one spoke in German. “Let 
us get on,” he said. “This fellow is all 

They asked one last question : 

“Did you see any one pass early this morn- 
ing? He might be on a bicycle or he might 
be on foot.” 

I very nearly fell into the trap and told a 
story of a bicyclist hurrying past in the grey 


dawn. But I had the sense to see my danger. 
I pretended to consider very deeply. 

“I wasna up very early,” I said. “Ye see 
my dochter was merrit last nicht, and we 
keepit it up late. I opened the house-door 
about seeven — and there was naebody on the 
road then. Since I cam up here there has 
been just the baker and the Ruchill herd, be- 
sides you gentlemen.” 

One of them gave me a cigar, which I 
smelled gingerly and stuck in Turnbull’s 
bundle. They got into their car and were out 
of sight in three minutes. 

My heart leaped with an enormous relief, 
but I went on wheeling my stones. It was as 
well, for ten minutes later the car returned, 
one of the occupants waving a hand to me. 
These gentry left nothing to chance. 

I finished Turnbull’s bread and cheese, and 
pretty soon I had finished the stones. The 
next step was what puzzled me. I could not 
keep up this road-making business for long. 
A merciful Providence had kept Mr. Turn- 
bull indoors, but if he appeared on the scene 



there would be trouble. I had a notion that 
the cordon was still tight round the glen, and 
that if I walked in any direction I should meet 
with questioners. 

But get out I must. No man’s nerve could 
'stand more than a day of being spied on. 

I stayed at my post till about five o’clock. 
By that time I had resolved to go down to 
Turnbull’s cottage at nightfall and take my 
chance of getting over the hills in the dark- 
ness. But suddenly a new car came up the 
road, and slowed down a yard or two from 
me. A fresh wind had risen, and the occu- 
pant wanted to light a cigarette. 

It was a touring-car, with the tonneau full 
of an assortment of baggage. One man sat in 
it, and by an amazing chance I knew him. 
His name was Marmaduke Jopley, and 
he was an offence to creation. He was a sort 
of blood stockbroker, who did his business by 
toadying eldest sons and rich young peers and 
foolish old ladies. 

‘^Marmie” was a familiar figure, I under- 
stood, at balls and polo-weeks and country 



houses. He was an adroit scandalmonger, 
and would crawl a mile on his belly to any- 
thing that had a title or a million. I had a 
business introduction to his firm when I came 
to London, and he was good enough to ask 
me to dinner at his club. 

There he showed off at a great rate, and 
pattered about his duchesses till the snobbery 
of the creature turned me sick. I asked a man 
afterwards why nobody kicked him, and was 
told that Englishmen reverenced the weaker 

Anyhow there he was now, nattily dressed, 
in a fine new car, obviously on his way to visit 
some of his fine friends. A sudden daftness 
took me, and in a second I had jumped into 
the tonneau and had him by the shoulder. 

‘^Hello, Jopley,” I sang out. ‘Well met, 
my lad!’’ 

He got a horrid fright. His chin dropped 
as he stared at me. ‘Who the devil are you?” 
he gasped. 

“My name’s Hannay,” I said, “from Rho- 
desia, you remember?” 



“Good God, the murderer!” he choked. 

“Just so. And there’ll be a second murder, 
my dear, if you don’t do as I tell you. Give 
me that coat of yours. That cap, too.” 

He did as he was bid, for he was blind 
with terror. Over my dirty trousers and vul- 
gar shirt I put on his smart driving-coat, 
which buttoned high at the top and thereby 
hid the deficiencies of my collar. I stuck the 
cap on my head, and added his gloves to my 
get-up. The dusty roadman in a minute was 
transformed into one of the neatest motorists 
in Scotland. On Mr. Jopley’s head I clapped 
Turnbull’s unspeakable hat, and told him to 
keep it there. 

Then with some difficulty I turned the car. 
My plan was to go back the road he had come, 
for the watchers, having seen it before, would 
probably let it pass unremarked, and Mar- 
mie’s figure was in no way like mine. 

“Now, my child,” I said, “sit quite still and 
be a good boy. I mean you no harm. I’m 
only borrowing your car for an hour or two. 
But if you play me any tricks, and above all 
1 14 


if you open your mouth, as sure as there’s a 
God above me, I’ll wring your neck. Savez?^* 

I enjoyed that evening’s ride. We ran eight 
miles down the valley, through a village or 
two, and I could not help noticing several 
strange-looking folk lounging by the road- 
side. These were the watchers who would 
have had much to say to me if I had come in 
other garb or company. As it was, they looked 
incuriously on. One touched his cap in salute, 
and I responded graciously. 

As the dark fell I turned up a side glen 
which, as I remembered from the map, led 
into an unfrequented corner of the hills. Soon 
the villages were left behind, then the farms, 
and then even the wayside cottages. Present- 
ly we came to a lonely moor where the night 
was blackening the sunset gleam in the bog- 
pools. Here we stopped, and I obligingly 
- reversed the car and restored to Mr. Jopley 
his belongings. 

‘‘A thousand thanks,” I said. “There’s 
more use in you than I thought. Now be off 
and find the police.” 


As I sat on the hillside, watching the tail- 
light dwindle, I reflected on the various kinds 
of crime I had now sampled. Contrary to 
general belief I was not a murderer, but I 
had become an unholy liar, a shameless im- 
postor, and a highwayman with a marked 
taste for expensive motor-cars. 




1 SPENT the night on a shelf of the hill- 
side, in the lee of a boulder where the 
heather grew long and soft. It was a cold 
business, for I had neither coat nor waistcoat. 
Those were in Mr. Turnbull’s keep, as was 
Scudder’s little book, my watch and — ^worst 
of all — my pipe and tobacco pouch. Only 
my money accompanied me in my belt, and 
about half a pound of ginger biscuits in my 
trousers pocket. 

I supped off half those biscuits, and by 
worming myself deep into the heather got 
some kind of warmth. My spirits had risen, 
and I was beginning to enjoy this crazy game 
of hide-and-seek. So far I had been miracu- 
lously lucky. The milkman, the literary inn- 
keeper, Sir Harry, the roadman, and the idi- 
otic Marmie, were all pieces of undeserved 


good fortune. Somehow the first success gave 
me a feeling that I should pull through. My 
chief trouble was that I was desperately hun- 
gry. When a Jew shoots himself in the City 
and there is an inquest, the newspapers usually 
report that the deceased was “well nourished.” 
I remember thinking that they would not call 
me well-nourished if I broke my neck in a 
bog-hole. I lay and tortured myself — for 
the ginger biscuits merely emphasised the 
aching void — ^with the memory of all the good 
food I had thought so little of in London. 
There were Paddock’s crisp sausages and fra- 
grant shavings of bacon, and shapely poached 
eggs — how often I had turned up my nose 
at them! There were the cutlets they did at 
the club, and a particular ham that stood on 
the cold table, for which my soul lusted. My 
thoughts hovered over all the varieties of mor- 
tal edible, and finally settled on a porter- 
house steak and a quart of bitter with a Welsh 
rabbit to follow. In longing hopelessly for 
these dainties I fell asleep. 

I woke very cold and stiff about an hour 



after dawn. It took me a little while to re- 
member where I was, for I had been very 
weary and had slept heavily. I saw first the 
pale blue sky through a net of heather, then a 
big shoulder of hill, and then my own boots 
placed neatly in a blackberry-bush. I raised 
myself on my arms and looked down into the 
valley, and that one look set me lacing up my 
boots in mad haste. For there were men be- 
low, not more than a quarter of a mile off, 
spaced out on the hillside like a fan, and beat- 
ing the heather. Marmie had not been slow 
in looking for his revenge. 

I crawled out of my shelf into the cover 
of a boulder, and from it gained a shallow 
trench which slanted up the mountain face. 
This led me presently into the narrow gully 
of a burn, by way of which I scrambled to 
the top of the ridge. From there I looked 
back, and saw that I was still undiscovered. 
My pursuers were patiently quartering the 
hillside and moving upwards. 

Keeping behind the skyline, I ran for may- 
be half a mile till I judged I was above the 



uppermost end of the glen. Then I showed 
myself, and was instantly noted by one of 
the flankers who passed the word to the 
others. I heard cries coming up from below, 
and saw that the line of search had changed its 
direction. I pretended to retreat over the sky- 
line, but instead went back the way I had 
come, and in twenty minutes was behind the 
ridge overlooking my sleeping place. From 
that viewpoint I had the satisfaction of seeing 
the pursuit streaming up the hill at the top of 
the glen on a hopelessly false scent. I had be- 
fore me a choice of routes, and I chose a ridge 
which made an angle with the one I was on, 
and so would soon put a deep glen between 
me and my enemies. The exercise had 
warmed my blood, and I was beginning 
to enjoy myself amazingly. As I went I 
breakfasted on the dusty remnants of the gin- 

I knew very little about the country, and I 
hadn’t a notion what I was going to do. I 
trusted to the strength of my legs, but I was 
well aware that those behind me would be 



familiar with the lie of the land, and that 
my ignorance would be a heavy handicap. 
I saw in front of me a sea of hills, rising 
very high towards the south, but northwards 
breaking down into broad ridges which sepa- 
rated wide and shallow dales. The ridge I 
had chosen seemed to sink after a mile or 
two to a moor which lay like a pocket in the 
uplands. That seemed as good a direction to 
take as any other. 

My stratagem had given me a fair start — 
call it twenty minutes — and I had the width 
of a glen behind me before I saw the first 
heads of the pursuers. The police had evi- 
dently called in local herds or gamekeepers. 
They hallooed at the sight of me, and I waved 
my hand. Two dived into the glen and be- 
gan to climb my ridge, while the others kept 
their own side of the hill. I felt as if I were 
taking part in a schoolboy game of hare and 

But very soon it began to seem less of a 
game. Those fellows behind were hefty men 
on their native heath. Looking back I saw 



that only three were following direct and I 
guessed that the others had fetched a circuit 
to cut me off. My lack of local knowledge 
might very well be my undoing, and I re- 
solved to get out of this tangle of glens to the 
pocket of moor I had seen from the tops. I 
must so increase my distance as to get clear 
away from them and I believed I could do 
this if I could find the right ground for it. If 
there had been cover I would have tried a bit 
of stalking, but on these bare slopes you could 
see a fly a mile off. My hope must be in the 
length of my legs and the soundness of my 
wind, but I needed easier ground for that, for 
I was not bred a mountaineer. How I longed 
for a good Afrikander pony! 

I put on a great spurt and got off my ridge 
and down into the moor before any figures 
appeared on the skyline behind me. I crossed 
a burn, and came out on a highroad which 
made a pass between two glens. All in front 
of me was a big field of heather sloping up to 
a crest which was crowned with an odd feath- 
er of trees. In the dike by the roadside was 


a gate, from which a grass-grown track led 
over the first wave of the moor. I jumped 
the dike and followed it, and after a few hun- 
dred yards — as soon as it was out of sight of 
the highway — the grass stopped and it became 
a very respectable road which was evidently 
kept with some care. Clearly it ran to a 
house, and I began to think of doing the same. 
Hitherto my luck had held, and it might be 
that my best chance would be found in this 
remote dwelling. Anyhow there were trees 
there — and that meant cover. 

I did not follow the road, but the burn- 
side which flanked it on the right, where the 
bracken grew deep and the high banks made 
a tolerable screen. It was well I did so, for 
no sooner had I gained the hollow than, look- 
ing back, I saw the pursuit topping the ridge 
from which I had descended. 

After that I did not look back; I had no 
time. I ran up the burnside, crawling over 
the open places, and for a large part wading 
in the shallow stream. I found a deserted 
cottage with a row of phantom peat-stacks and 


an overgrown garden. Then I was among 
young hay, and very soon had come to the 
edge of a plantation of windblown firs. From 
there I saw the chimneys of the house smoking 
a few hundred yards to my left. I forsook 
the burnside, crossed another dike, and almolt 
before I knew was on a rough lawn. A glance 
back told me that I was well out of sight of 
the pursuit, which had not yet passed the first 
lift of the moor. 

The lawn was a very rough place, cut with 
a scythe instead of a mower, and planted with 
beds of scrubby rhododendrons. A brace of 
blackgame, which are not usually garden 
birds, rose at my approach. The house be- 
fore me was the ordinary moorland farm, with 
a more pretentious white-washed wing added. 
Attached to this wing was a glass verandah, 
and through the glass I saw the face of an 
elderly gentleman meekly watching me. 

I stalked over the border of coarse hill 
gravel and entered the verandah door. 
Within was a pleasant room, glass on one 
side, and on the other a mass of books. More 


books showed in an inner room. On the floor, 
instead of tables, stood eases such as you see 
in a museum, filled with coins and queer stone 
implements. There was a knee-hole desk in 
the middle, and seated at it, with some papers 
and open volumes before him, was the benevo- 
lent old gentleman. His face was round and 
shiny, like Mr. Pickwick’s, big glasses were 
stuck on the end of his nose, and the top of his 
head was as bright and bare as a glass bottle. 
He never moved when I entered, but raised 
his placid eyebrows and waited on me to 

It was not an easy job, with about five niin- 
utes to spare, to tell a stranger who I was and 
what I wanted, and to win his aid. I did not 
attempt it. There was something about the 
eye of the man before me, something so 
keen and knowledgeable, that I could not find 
a word. I simply stared at him and stut- 

^^You seem in a hurry, my friend,” he said 

I nodded towards the window. It gave a 



prospect across the moor through a gap in the 
plantation, and revealed certain figures half 
a mile off straggling through the heather. 

^^Ah, I see,” he said, and took up a pair 
of field glasses, through which he patiently 
scrutinised the figures. 

“A fugitive from justice, eh? Well, we’ll 
go into the matter at our leisure. Meantime, 
I object to my privacy being broken in upon 
by the clumsy rural policeman. Go into my 
study and you will see two doors facing you. 
Take the one to the left and close it behind 
you. You will be perfectly safe.” 

And this extraordinary man took up his 
pen again. 

I did as I was bid, and found myself in a 
little dark chamber which smelled of chem- 
icals and was lit only by a tiny window high 
up in the wall. The door had swung behind 
me with a click like the door of a safe. Once 
again I had found an unexpected sanctuary. 

All the same I was not comfortable. There 
was something about the old gentleman which 
puzzled and rather terrified me. He had 


been too easy and ready, almost as if he had 
expected me. And his eyes had been horribly 

No sound came to me in that dark place. 
For all I knew the police might be search- 
ing the house, and if they did they would 
want to know what was behind this door. I 
tried to possess my soul in patience and to 
forget how hungry I was. Then I took a more 
cheerful view. The old gentleman could 
scarcely refuse me a meal, and I fell to re- 
constructing my breakfast. Bacon and eggs 
would content me, but I wanted the better 
part of a flitch of bacon and half a hundred 
eggs. And then, while my mouth was water- 
ing in anticipation, there was a click and the 
door stood open. 

I emerged into the sunlight to find the mas- 
ter of the house sitting in a deep armchair in 
the room he called his study, and regarding 
me with curious eyes. 

‘^Have they gone?” I asked. 

‘‘They have gone. I convinced them that 
you had crossed the hill. I do not choose that 


the police should come between me and one 
whom I am delighted to honour. This is a 
lucky morning for you, Mr. Richard Han- 

As he spoke his eyelids seemed to tremble 
and to fall a little over his keen grey eyes. 
In a flash the phrase of Scudder’s came back 
to me, when he had described the man he most 
dreaded in the world. He had said that he 
“could hood his eyes like a hawk.” Then I 
saw that I had walked straight into the ene- 
my’s headquarters. 

My first impulse was to throttle the old ruf- 
fian and make for the open air. He seemed 
to anticipate my intention, for he smiled 
gently and nodded to the door behind me. I 
turned and saw two men-servants who had me 
covered with pistols. 

He knew my name, but he had never seen 
me before. And as the reflection darted across 
my mind, I saw a slender chance. 

“I don’t know what you mean,” I said 
roughly. “And who are you calling Richard 
Hannay? My name’s Ainslie.” 



“So?” he said, still smiling. “But of course 
you have others. We won’t quarrel about a 

I was pulling myself together now and I 
reflected that my garb, lacking coat and waist- 
coat and collar, would, at any rate, not be- 
tray me. I put on my surliest face and 
shrugged my shoulders. 

“I suppose you’re going to give me up after 
all, and I call it a damned dirty trick. My 
God, I wish I had never seen that cursed 
motor-car! Here’s the money and be damned 
to you,” and I flung four sovereigns on the 

He opened his eyes a little. “Oh, no, I shall 
not give you up. My friends and I will have 
a little private settlement with you, that is all. 
You know a little too much, Mr. Hannay. 
You are a clever actor, but not quite clever 

He spoke with assurance, but I could see the 
dawning of a doubt in his mind. 

“O, for God’s sake stop jawing,” I cried. 
“Everything’s against me. I haven’t had a 


bit of luck since I came on shore at Leith. 
What’s the harm in a poor devil with an 
empty stomach picking up some money he 
finds in a bust-up motor-car? That’s all I 
done, and for that I’ve been chivvied for 
two days by those blasted bobbies over 
those blasted hills. I tell you I’m fair 
sick of it. You can do what you like, old 
boyl Ned Ainslie’s got no fight left in 

I could see that the doubt was gaining. 

“Will you oblige me with the story of your 
recent doings?” he asked. 

“I can’t, guv’nor,” I said in a real beggar’s 
whine. “I’ve not had a bite to eat for two 
days. Give me a mouthful of food, and then 
you’ll hear God’s truth.” 

I must have showed my hunger in my face, 
for he signalled to one of the men in the door- 
way. A bit of cold pie was brought and a 
glass of beer, and I wolfed them down like a 
pig — or rather like Ned Ainslie, for I was 
keeping up my character. In the middle of 
my meal he spoke suddenly to me in German, 


but I turned on him a face as blank as a stone 

Then I told him my story — how I had come 
off an Archangel ship at Leith a week ago, 
and was making my way overland to my 
brother at Wigton. I had run short of cash 
— I hinted vaguely at a spree — and I was pret- 
ty well on my uppers when I had come on a 
hole in a hedge, and, looking through, had 
seen a big motor-car lying in a burn. I 
had poked about to see what had happened, 
and had found three sovereigns lying on 
the seat and one on the floor. There was no- 
body there or any sign of an owner, so I 
had pocketed the cash. But somehow the 
law had got after me. When I had tried to 
change a sovereign in a baker’s shop the 
woman had cried on the police, and a little 
later, when I was washing my face in a burn, 
I had been nearly gripped, and had only got 
away by leaving my coat and waistcoat behind 

“They can have the money back,” I cried, 
“for a fat lot of good it’s done me. Those 



perishers are all down on a poor man. Now 
if it had been you, guv’nor, that had found the 
quids, nobody would have troubled you.” 

“You’re a good liar, Hannay,” he said. 

I flew into a rage. “Stop fooling, damn 
you! I tell you my name’s Ainslie, and I 
never heard of any one called Hannay in my 
born days. I’d sooner have the police than 
you with your Hannays and your monkey- 
faced pistol tricks. No, guv’nor, I don’t mean 
that. I’m much obliged to you for the grub. 
I’ll thank you to let me go now the coast’s 

It was obvious that he was badly puzzled. 
You see he had never seen me, and my appear- 
ance must have altered considerably from my 
photographs^ — if he had got one of them. I 
was pretty smart and well dressed in London, 
and now I was a regular tramp. 

“I do not propose to let you go. If you are 
what you say you are, you will soon have a 
chance of clearing yourself. If you are what 
I believe you are, I do not think you will see 
the light much longer.” 



He rang a bell and a third servant appeared 
from the verandah. 

want the Lanchester in five minutes,” he 
said. ^‘There will be three to luncheon.” 

Then he looked steadily at me, and that was 
the hardest ordeal of all. There was some- 
thing weird and devilish in those eyes, cold, 
malignant, unearthly, and most hellishly 
clever. They fascinated me like the bright 
eyes of a snake. I had a strong impulse to 
throw myself on his mercy and offer to join 
his side, and if you consider the way I felt 
about the whole thing, you will see that that 
impulse must have been purely physical, the 
weakness of a brain mesmerised and mastered 
by a stronger spirit. But I managed to stick 
it out and even to grin. “You’ll know me 
next time, guv’nor,” I said. 

“Karl,” he said in German to one of the 
men in the doorway. “You will put this fel- 
low in the store-room till I return, and you 
will be answerable to me for his keeping.” 

I was marched out of the room with a pistol 
at each ear. 



The store-room was a damp chamber in 
what had been the old farmhouse. There was 
no carpet on the uneven floor and nothing to 
sit down on but a school form. It was black 
as pitch, for the windows were heavily shut- 
tered. I made out by groping that the walls 
were lined with boxes and barrels and sacks of 
some heavy stuff. The whole place smelled 
of mould and disuse. My jailers turned the 
key in the door, and I could hear them shift- 
ing their feet as they stood on guard outside. 

I sat down in the chilly darkness in a very 
miserable frame of mind. The old boy had 
gone off in a motor to collect the two ruffians 
who had interviewed me yesterday. Now, 
they had seen me as the roadman, and they 
would remember me, for I was in the same 
rig. What was a roadman doing twenty miles 
from his beat, pursued by the police? A 
question or two would put them on the track. 
Probably they had seen Mr. Turnbull, prob- 
ably Marmie too ; most likely they could link 
me up with Sir Harry, and then the whole 
thing would be crystal clear. What chance 



had I in this moorland house with three des- 
peradoes and their armed servants? I began 
to think wistfully of the police, now plodding 
over the hills after my wraith. They at any 
rate were fellow countrymen and honest men, 
and their tender mercies would be kinder than 
these ghoulish aliens. But they wouldn’t have 
listened to me. That old devil with the eye- 
lids had not taken long to get rid of them. I 
thought he probably had some kind of graft 
with the constabulary. Most likely he had 
letters from Cabinet Ministers saying he was 
to be given every facility for plotting against 
Britain. That’s the sort of owlish way we 
run our politics in the Old Country. 

The three would be back for lunch, so I 
hadn’t more than a couple of hours to wait. 
It was simply waiting on destruction, for I 
could see no way out of this mess. I wished 
that I had Scudder’s courage, for I am free 
to confess I didn’t feel any great fortitude. 
The only thing that kept me going was that 
I was pretty furious. It made me boil with 
rage to think of those three spies getting the 



pull on me like this. I hoped that at any 
rate I might be able to twist one of their necks 
before they downed me. 

The more I thought of it the angrier I 
grew, and I had to get up and move about 
the room. I tried the shutters, but they were 
the kind that lock with a key and I couldn’t 
move them. From the outside came the faint 
clucking of hens in the warm sun. Then I 
groped among the sacks and boxes. I couldn’t 
open the latter and the sacks seemed to be full 
of things like dog-biscuits that smelled of cin- 
namon. But, as I circumnavigated the room, 
I found a handle in the wall which seemed 
worth investigating. 

It was the door of a wall cupboard — what 
they call a ‘‘press” in Scotland — and it was 
locked. I shook it and it seemed rather flimsy. 
For want of something better to do I put out 
my strength on that door, getting some pur- 
chase on the handle by looping my braces 
round it. Presently the thing gave with a 
crash which I thought would bring in my 
warders to inquire. I waited for a bit and 


then started to explore the cupboard shelves. 

There was a multitude of queer things there. 
I found an odd vesta or two in my trouser 
pockets and struck a light. It went out in a 
second, but it showed me one thing. There 
was a little stock of electric torches on one 
shelf. I picked up one and found it was in 
working order. 

With the torch to help me I investigated 
further. There were bottles and cases of 
queer smelling stuffs, chemicals no doubt for 
experiments, and there were coils of fine cop- 
per wire and yanks and yanks of a thin oiled 
silk. There was a box of detonators, and a 
lot of cord for fuses. Then away at the back 
of a shelf I found a stout brown cardboard 
box, and inside it a wooden case. I man- 
aged to wrench it open, and within lay half 
a dozen little grey bricks, each a couple of 
inches square. 

I took up one and found that it crumbled 
easily in my hand. Then I smelled it and put 
my tongue to it. After that I sat down to 
think. I hadn’t been a mining engineer for 



nothing, and I knew lentonite when I saw it 

With one of these bricks I could blow the 
house to smithereens. I had used the stuff in 
Rhodesia and knew its power. But the trou- 
ble was that my knowledge wasn’t exact 
I had forgotten the proper charge and the 
right way of preparing it, and I wasn’t sure 
about the timing. I had only a vague notion, 
too, as to its power, for though I had used it 
I had not handled it with my own fingers. 

But it was a chance, the only possible 
chance. It was a mighty risk, but against it 
was an absolute black certainty. If I used it 
the odds were, as I reckoned, about five to one 
in favour of my blowing myself into the tree- 
tops; but if I didn’t I should very likely be 
occupying a six-foot hole in the garden by 
the evening. That was the way I had to look 
at it. The prospect was pretty dark either 
way, but anyhow there was a chance, both for 
myself and for my country. 

The remembrance of little Scudder decid- 
ed me. It was about the beastliest moment of 
my life, for I’m no good at these cold-blooded 


resolutions. Still I managed to rake up the 
pluck to set my teeth and choke back the hor- 
rid doubts that flooded in on me. I simply 
shut off my mind and pretended I was doing 
an experiment as simple as Guy Fawkes fire- 

I got a detonator, and fixed it to a couple of 
feet of fuse. Then I took a quarter of a lento- 
nite brick, and buried it near the door, below 
one of the sacks in a crack of the floor, fixing 
the detonator in it. For all I knew half those 
boxes might be dynamite. If the cupboard 
held such deadly explosives, why not the 
boxes? In that case there would be a glorious 
skyward journey for me and the German ser- 
vants and about an acre of the surrounding 
country. There was also the risk that the de- 
tonation might set off the other bricks in the 
cupboard, for I had forgotten most that I 
knew about lentonite. But it didn’t do to be- 
gin thinking about the possibilities. The odds 
were horrible, but I had to take them. 

I ensconced myself just below the sill of 
the window and lit the fuse. Then I waited 



for a moment or two. There was dead silence 
— only a shuffle of heavy boots in the passage, 
and the peaceful cluck of hens from the warm 
out-of-doors. I commended my soul to my 
Maker, and wondered where I would be in 
five seconds. 

A great wave of heat seemed to surge 
upwards from the floor, and hang for a 
blistering instant in the air. Then the wall 
opposite me flashed into a golden yellow and 
dissolved with a rending thunder that ham- 
mered my brain into a pulp. Something 
dropped on me, catching the point of my left 

And then I became unconscious. 

My stupor can scarcely have lasted be- 
yond a few seconds. I felt myself being 
choked by thick yellow fumes, and struggled 
out of the debris to my feet. Somewhere be- 
hind me I felt fresh air. The jambs of the 
window had fallen, and through the ragged 
rent the smoke was pouring out to the sum- 
mer noon. I stepped over the broken lintel, 
and found myself standing in a yard in a dense 


and acrid fog. I felt very sick and ill, but I 
could move my limbs, and I staggered blindly 
forward away from the house. 

A small mill lade ran in a wooden aqueduct 
at the other side of the yard, and into this I 
fell. The cool water revived me, and I had 
just enough wits left to think of escape. I 
squirmed up the lade among the slippery 
green slime till I reached the mill-wheel. 
Then, I wriggled through the axle hole into 
the old mill and tumbled onto a bed of chaff. 
A nail caught the seat of my trousers, and I 
left a wisp of heather-mixture behind me. 

The mill had been long out of use. The 
ladders were rotten with age, and in the 
loft the rats had gnawed great holes in 
the floor. Nausea shook me, and a wheel in 
my head kept turning, while my left shoulder 
and arm seemed to be stricken with the palsy. 
I looked out of the window and saw a fog 
still hanging over the house and smoke es- 
caping from an upper window. Please God I 
had set the place on fire, for I could hear con- 
fused cries coming from the other side. But 


I had no time to linger, since this mill was 
obviously a bad hiding-place. Any one look- 
ing for me would naturally follow the lade, 
and I made certain the search would begin as 
soon as they found that my body was not in 
the store-room. From another window I saw 
that on the far side of the mill stood an old 
stone dovecot. If I could get there without 
leaving tracks I might find a hiding-place, for 
I argued that my enemies, if they thought I 
could move, would conclude I had made for 
open country, and would go seeking me on the 

I crawled down the broken ladder, scatter- 
ing chaff behind me to cover my footsteps. I 
did the same on the mill floor, and on the 
threshold where the door hung on broken 
hinges. Peeping out I saw that between me 
and the dovecot was a piece of bare cobbled 
ground, where no footmarks would show. 
Also it was mercifully hid by the mill build- 
ings from any view from the house. I slipped 
across the space, got to the back of the dove- 
cot and prospected a way of ascent. 



That was one of the hardest jobs I ever took 
on. My shoulder and arm ached like hell, 
and I was so sick and giddy that I was always 
on the verge of falling. But I managed it 
somehow. By the use of outjutting stones 
and gaps in the masonry and a tough ivy root 
I got to the top in the end. There was a little 
parapet behind which I found space to lie 
down. Then I proceeded to go into an old- 
fashioned swoon. 

I woke with a burning head and the sun 
glaring in my face. For a long time I lay 
motionless, for those horrible fumes seemed to 
have loosened my joints and dulled my brain. 
Sounds came to me from the house — men 
speaking throatily and the throbbing of a 
stationary car. There was a little gap in the 
parapet to which I wriggled, and from which 
I had some sort of prospect of the yard. I 
saw figures come out — a servant with his 
head bound up, and then a younger man in 
knickerbockers. They were looking for some- 
thing, and moved towards the mill. Then one 
of them caught sight of the wisp of cloth on 


the nail, and cried out to the other. They 
both went back to the house, and brought two 
more to look at it. I saw the rotund figure 
of my late captor, and I thought I made out 
the man with the lisp. I noticed that all had 

For half an hour they ransacked the mill. 
I could hear them kicking over the barrels 
and pulling up the rotten planking. Then 
they came outside, and stood just below the 
dovecot, arguing fiercely. The servant with 
the bandage was being soundly rated. I heard 
them fiddling with the door of the dovecot, 
and for one horrid moment I thought they 
were coming up. Then they thought better of 
it, and went back to the house. 

All that long blistering afternoon I lay 
baking on the roof-top. Thirst was my chief 
torment. My tongue was like a stick, and to 
make it worse, I could hear the cool drip of 
water from the mill-lade. I watched the 
course of the little stream as it came in from 
the moor, and my fancy followed it to the top 
of the glen, where it must issue from an icy 


fountain fringed with cool ferns and mosses. 
I would have given a thousand pounds to 
plunge my face into that. 

I had a fine prospect of the whole ring of 
moorland. I saw the car speed away with 
two occupants, and a man on a hill pony rid- 
ing east. I judged they were looking for me, 
and I wished them joy of their quest. But I 
saw something else more interesting. The 
house stood almost on the summit of a 
swell of moorland which crowned a sort of 
plateau, and there was no higher point nearer 
than the big hills six miles off. The actual 
summit, as I have mentioned, was a biggish 
clump of trees — firs mostly, with a few ashes 
and beeches. On the dovecot I was almost 
on a level with the tree-tops, and could see 
what lay beyond. The wood was not solid, 
but only a ring, and inside was an oval of 
green turf, for all the world like a big cricket- 
field. I didn’t take long to guess what it was. 
It was an aerodrome, and a secret one. The 
place had been most cunningly chosen. For 
suppose any one were watching an aero- 


plane descending here, he would think it had 
gone over the hill beyond the trees. As the 
^ place was on the top of a rise in the midst of a 
big amphitheatre any observer from any di- 
rection would conclude it had passed out of 
view behind the hill. Only a man very close 
at hand would realise that the aeroplane had 
not gone over but had descended in the midst 
of the wood. An observer with a telescope 
on one of the higher hills might have discov- 
ered the truth, but only herds went there, and 
herds do not carry spy-glasses. When I 
looked from the dovecot I could see far away 
a blue line which I knew was the sea, and I 
grew furious to think that our enemies had 
this secret conning-tower to rake our water- 

Then I reflected that if that aeroplane came 
back the chances were ten to one that I would 
be discovered. So through the afternoon I lay 
and prayed for the coming of darkness, and 
glad I was when the sun went down over the 
big western hills and the twilight haze crept 
over the moor. The aeroplane was late. The 


gloaming was far advanced when I heard the 
beat of wings, and saw it volplaning down- 
ward to its home in the wood. Lights twinkled 
for a bit and there was much coming and go- 
ing from the house. Then the dark fell and 

Thank God it was a black night. The moon 
was well on in its last quarter and would not 
rise till late. My thirst was too great to allow 
me to tarry, so about nine o’clock, so far as I 
could judge, I started to descend. It wasn’t 
easy, and half-way down I heard the back 
door of the house open, and saw the gleam 
of a lantern against the mill wall. For some 
agonising minutes I hung by the ivy and 
prayed that whoever it was would not 
come round by the dovecot. Then the light 
disappeared, and I dropped as softly as I 
could onto the hard soil of the yard. 

I crawled on my belly in the lee of a stone 
dike till I reached the fringe of trees which 
surrounded the house. If I had known how 
to do it I would have tried to put that aero- 
plane out of action, but I realised that any 



attempt would probably be futile. I was pret- 
ty certain that there would be some kind of 
defence round the house, so I went through 
the wood on hands and knees, feeling care- 
fully every inch before me. It was as well, 
for presently I came on a wire about two feet 
from the ground. If I had tripped over that, 
it would doubtless have rung some bell in the 
house and I would have been captured. 

A hundred yards further on I found another 
wire cunningly placed on the edge of a small 
stream. Beyond that lay the moor, and in five 
minutes I was deep in bracken and heather. 
Soon I was round the shoulder of the rise, 
in the little glen from which the mill-lade 
flowed. Ten minutes later my face was deep 
in the spring, and I was soaking down pints 
of the blessed water. But I did not stop till 
I had put half a dozen miles between me and 
that accursed dwelling. 




1 SAT down on a hill-top and took stock of 
my position. I wasn’t feeling very hap- 
py, for my natural thankfulness at my escape 
was clouded by my severe bodily discomfort. 
Those lentonite fumes had fairly poisoned 
me, and the baking hours on the dovecot 
hadn’t helped matters. I had a crushing head- 
ache, and felt as sick as a cat. Also my shoul- 
der was in a bad way. At first I thought it 
was only a bruise, but it seemed to be swelling 
and I had no use of my left arm. 

My plan was to seek Mr. Turnbull’s cot- 
tage, recover my garments and especially 
Scudder’s note-book, and then make for the 
main line and get back to the south. It 
seemed to me that the sooner I got in touch 
with the Foreign Office man, Sir Walter Bul- 
livant, the better. I didn’t see how I could 


get more proof than I had got already. 
He must just take or leave my story, and 
anyway with him I would be in better hands 
than those devilish Germans. I had begun 
to feel quite kindly towards the British 

It was a wonderful starry night and I had 
not much difficulty about the road. Sir Har- 
ry’s map had given me the lie of the land, 
and all I had to do was to steer a point or two 
west of southwest to come to the stream where 
I had met the roadman. In all these travels 
I never knew the names of the places, but I 
believe this stream was no less than the upper 
waters of the river Tweed. I calculated I 
must be about eighteen miles distant, and that 
meant I could not get there before morning. 
So I must lie up a day somewhere, for I 
was too outrageous a figure to be seen in the 
sunlight. I had neither coat, waistcoat, collar 
nor hat, my trousers were badly torn, and my 
face and hands were black with the explosion. 
I dare say I had other beauties, for my eyes 
felt as if they were furiously bloodshot. 


Altogether I was no spectacle for God-fear- 
ing citizens to see on a highroad. 

Very soon after daybreak I made an at- 
tempt to clean myself in a hill burn, and then 
approached a herd’s cottage, for I was feel- 
ing the need of food. The herd was away 
from home, and his wife was alone, with no 
neighbour for five miles. She was a decent 
old body, and a plucky one, for though she 
got a fright when she saw me, she had an ax 
handy, and would have used it on any evil- 
doer. I told her that I had had a fall — I 
didn’t say how — and she saw by my looks that 
I was pretty sick. Like a true Samaritan she 
asked no questions, but gave me a bowl of milk 
with a dash of whisky in it, and let me sit 
for a little by her kitchen fire. She would 
have bathed my shoulder, but it ached so bad- 
ly that I would not let her touch it. I don’t 
know what she took me for — a repentant burg- 
lar, perhaps ; for when I wanted to pay her for 
the milk and tendered a sovereign, which was 
the smallest coin I had, she shook her head 
and said something about “giving it to them 



that had a right to it.” At this I protested so 
strongly that I think she believed me honest, 
for she took the money and gave me a warm 
new plaid for it and an old hat of her man’s. 
She showed me how to wrap the plaid round 
my shoulders and when I left that cot- 
tage I was the living image of the kind of 
Scotsman you see in the illustrations to Burns’s 
poems. But at any rate I was more or less 

It was as well, for the weather changed be- 
fore midday to a thick drizzle of rain. I 
found shelter below an overhanging rock in 
the crook of a burn, where a drift of dead 
brackens made a tolerable bed. There I man- 
aged to sleep till nightfall, waking very 
cramped and wretched with my shoulder 
gnawing like a toothache. I ate the oat-cake 
and cheese the old wife had given me, and 
set out again just before the darkening. 

I pass over the miseries of that night among 
the wet hills. There were no stars to steer 
by, and I had to do the best I could from my 
memory of the map. Twice I lost my way, 



and I had some nasty falls into peat-bogs. I 
had only about ten miles to go as the crow 
flies, but my mistakes made it nearer twenty. 
The last bit was completed with set teeth and 
a very light and dizzy head. But I managed 
it, and in the early dawn I was knocking 
at Mr. Turnbull’s door. The mist lay close 
and thick, and from the cottage I could not 
see the highroad. 

Mr. Turnbull himself opened to me — sober 
and something more than sober. He was 
primly dressed in an ancient but well-tended 
suit of black; he had been shaved not later 
than the night before; he wore a linen collar; 
and in his left hand he carried a pocket Bible. 
At first he did not recognise me. 

^Whae are ye that comes stravaigin’ here 
on the Sabbath mornin’?” he asked. 

I had lost all count of the days. So the 
Sabbath was the reason for his strange de- 

My head was swimming so wildly that I 
could not frame a coherent answer. But he 
recognised me and he saw that I was ill. 



‘^Hae ye got my specs?” he asked. 

I fetched them out of my trousers pocket 
and gave him them. 

^^Ye’ll hae come for your jacket and west- 
coat,” he said. “Come in, bye. Losh, man, 
ye’re terrible dune i’ the legs. Haud up till 
I get ye to a chair.” 

I perceived I was in for a bout of malaria. 
I had a good deal of fever in my bones, 
and the wet night had brought it out, while 
my shoulder and the effects of the fumes com- 
bined to make me feel pretty bad. Before I 
knew, Mr. Turnbull was helping me off with 
my clothes, and putting me to bed in one of 
the two cupboards that lined the kitchen walls. 

He was a true friend in need, that old road- 
man. His wife was dead years ago, and since 
his daughter’s marriage he lived alone. For 
the better part of ten days he did all the rough 
nursing I needed. I simply wanted to be left 
in peace while the fever took its course, and 
when my skin was cool again I found that the 
bout had more or less cured my shoulder. But 
it was a baddish go, and though I was out of 


bed in five days, it took me some time to get 
my legs again. 

He went out each morning, leaving me 
milk for the day, and locking the door behind 
him; and came in in the evening to sit silent 
in the chimney corner. Not a soul came near 
the place. When I was getting better he 
never bothered me with a question. Several 
times he fetched me a two-days-old Scotsman, 
and I noticed that the interest in the Portland 
Place murder seemed to have died down. 
There was no mention of it, and I could find 
very little about anything except a thing 
called the General Assembly — some ecclesias- 
tical spree, I gathered. 

One day he produced my belt from a lock- 
fast drawer. ‘There’s a terrible heap o’ siller 
in’t,” he said. “Ye’d better count it to see it’s 
a’ there.” 

He never even inquired my name. I asked 
him if anybody had been around making in- 
quiries subsequent to my spell at the road- 

“Aye, there was a man in a motor-cawr. He 



speired whae had ta’en my place that day, and 
I let on I thocht him daft. But he keepit 
on at me, and syne I said he maun be thinkin’ 
o’ my gude-brither f rae the Cleuch that whiles 
lent me a haun’. He was a wersh-lookin’ 
soul, and I couldna understand the half o’ his 
English tongue.” 

I was getting pretty restless those last days, 
and as soon as I felt myself fit I decided to be 
off. That was not till the twelfth day of June, 
and as luck would have it, a drover went past 
that morning taking some cattle to Moffat. 
He was a man named Hislop, a friend of 
Turnbull’s, and he came in to his break- 
fast with us and offered to take me with 

I made Turnbull accept five pounds for my 
lodging, and a hard job I had of it. There 
never was a more independent being. He 
grew positively rude when I pressed him, and 
shy and red, and took the money at last with- 
out a thank you. When I told him how much 
I owed him, he grunted, something about “ae 
guid turn deservin’ anither.” You would have 


thought from our leavetaking that we had 
parted in disgust. 

Hislop was a cheery soul, who chattered all 
the way over the pass and down the sunny vale 
of Annan. I talked of Galloway markets 
and sheep prices, and he made up his mind 
I was a ^‘pack-shepherd” from those parts — 
whatever that may be. My plaid and my old 
hat, as I have said, gave me a fine theatrical 
Scots look. But driving cattle is a mortally 
slow job, and we took the better part of the 
day to cover a dozen miles. If I had not had 
such an anxious heart I would have enjoyed 
that time. It was shining blue weather, with a 
constantly changing prospect of brown hills 
and far, green meadows, and a continual 
spund of larks and curlews and falling 
streams. But I had no mind for the summer, 
and little for Hislop’s conversation, for as the 
fateful 15th of June grew near I was over- 
weighted with the hopeless difficulties of my 

I got some dinner in a humble Moffat pub- 
lic-house, and walked the two miles to the 



junction on the main line. The night express 
for the south was not due till near midnight, 
and to fill up the time I went up on the hill- 
side and fell asleep, for the walk had tired 
me. I all but slept too long, and had to run 
to the station and catch the train with two 
minutes to spare. The feel of the hard third- 
class cushions and the smell of stale tobacco 
cheered me up wonderfully. At any rate I 
felt now that I was getting to grips with my 

I was decanted at Crewe in the small hours 
and had to wait till six to get a train for Bir- 
mingham. In the afternoon I got to Reading 
and changed into a local train which jour- 
neyed into the deeps of Berkshire. Presently I 
was in a land of lush water-meadows and slow 
reedy streams. About eight o’clock in the 
evening, a weary and travel-stained being — a 
cross between a farm-labourer and a vet — with 
a checked black-and-white plaid over his arm 
(for I did not dare to wear it south of the bor- 
der) — descended at the little station of Ars- 
tinswell. There were several people on the 


platform, and I thought I had better wait to 
ask my way till I was clear of the place. 

The road led through a wood of great 
beeches and then into a shallow valley with 
the green backs of downs peeping over the 
distant trees. After Scotland the air smelled 
heavy and flat, but infinitely sweet, for the 
limes and chestnuts and lilac-bushes were 
domes of blossom. Presently I came to a 
bridge, below which a clear, slow stream 
flowed between snowy beds of water-butter- 
cups. A little above it was a mill; and the 
lasher made a pleasant cool sound in the scent- 
ed dusk. Somehow the place soothed me and 
put me at my ease. I fell to whistling as I 
looked into the green depths, and the tune 
which came to my lips was “Annie Laurie.” 

A fisherman came up from the waterside, 
and as he neared me he, too, began to whistle. 
The tune was Infectious, for he followed my 
suit. He was a huge man in untidy old flan- 
nels and a wide-brimmed hat, with a canvas 
bag slung on his shoulder. He nodded to me, 
and I thought I had never seen a shrewder 



or better-tempered face. He leaned his deli- 
cate ten-foot split cane rod against the bridge 
and looked with me at the water. 

“Clear, isn’t it?” he said pleasantly. “I 
back our Kennet any day against the Test. 
Look at that big fellow! Four pounds, if he’s 
an ounce! But the evening rise is over and 
you can’t tempt ’em.” 

“I don’t see him,” said I. 

“Look! There! A yard from the reeds, 
just above that stickle.” 

“I’ve got him now. You might swear he 
was a black stone.” 

“So,” he said, and whistled another bar of 
“Annie Laurie.” 

“Twisden’s the name, isn’t it?” he said over 
his shoulder, his eyes still fixed on the stream. 

“No,” I said. “I mean to say yes.” I had 
forgotten all about my alias. 

“It’s a wise conspirator that knows his own 
name,” he observed, grinning broadly at a 
moor-hen that emerged from the bridge’s 

I stood up and looked at him, at his square 


cleft jaw and broad, lined brow and the firm 
folds of cheek, and began to think that here 
at last was an ally worth having. His whim- 
sical blue eyes seemed to go very deep. 

Suddenly he frowned. “I call it disgrace- 
ful,” he said, raising his voice. ‘‘Disgraceful 
that an able-bodied man like you should dare 
to beg. You can get a meal from my kitchen, 
but you’ll get no money from me.” 

A dog-cart was passing, driven by a young 
man who raised his whip to salute the fisher- 
man. When he had gone, he picked up his 

“That’s my house,” he said, pointing to a 
white gate a hundred yards on. “Wait five 
minutes and then go round to the back door.” 
And with that he left me. 

I did as I was bidden. I found a pretty 
cottage with a lawn running down to the 
stream, and a perfect jungle of guelder-rose 
and lilac flanking the path. The back door 
stood open and a grave butler was awaiting 

“Come this way, sir,” he said, and he led 



me along a passage and up a back staircase to 
a pleasant bedroom looking towards the river. 
There I found a complete outfit laid out for 
me, dress clothes with all the fixings, a 
brown flannel suit, shirts, collars, ties, shaving 
things and hair-brushes, even a pair of patent 
shoes. “Sir Walter thought as how Mr. Reg- 
gie’s things would fit you, sir,” said the butler. 
“He keeps some clothes ’ere, for he comes 
regular on the week-ends. There’s a bath- 
room next door, and I’ve prepared a ’ot bath. 
Dinner in ’alf an hour, sir. You’ll ’ear the 

The grave being withdrew, and I sat down 
in a chintz-covered easy chair and gaped. 
It was like a pantomime to come suddenly 
out of beggardom into this orderly comfort. 
Obviously Sir Walter believed in me, though 
why he did I could not guess. I looked 
at myself in the mirror, and saw a wild, hag- 
gard brown fellow with a fortnight’s ragged 
beard and dust in ears and eyes, collarless, 
vulgarly shirted, with shapeless old tweed 
clothes and boots that had not been cleaned 


for the better part of a month. I made a 
fine tramp and a fair drover; and here I was 
ushered by a prim butler into this temple of 
gracious ease. And the best of it was that 
they did not even know my name. 

I resolved not to puzzle my head, but to 
take the gifts the gods had provided. I 
shaved and bathed luxuriously, and got into 
the dress clothes and clean, crackling shirt, 
which fitted me not so badly. By the time 
I had finished the looking-glass showed a not 
unpersonable young man. 

Sir Walter awaited me in a dusky dining- 
room, where a little round table was lit with 
silver candles. The sight of him — so respect- 
able and established and secure, the embodi- 
ment of law and government and all the con- 
ventions — took me aback and made me feel an 
interloper. He couldn’t know the truth about 
me, or he wouldn’t treat me like this. I 
simply could not accept his hospitality on 
false pretenses. 

“I am more obliged to you than I can say, 
but I’m bound to make things clear,” I said. 



“I’m an innocent man, but I’m wanted by the 
police. I’ve got to tell you this, and I won’t 
be surprised if you kick me out.” 

He smiled. “That’s all right. Don’t let 
that interfere with your appetite. We can 
talk about these things after dinner.” > 

I never ate a meal with greater relish, for 
I had had nothing all day but railway sand- 
wiches. Sir Walter did me proud, for we 
drank a good champagne and had some un- 
common fine port afterwards. It made me al- 
most hysterical to be sitting there, waited on 
by a footman and a sleek butler, and remem- 
ber that I had been living for three weeks like 
a brigand, with every man’s hand against me. 
I told Sir Walter about tiger-fish in the Zam- 
besi that bite off your fingers if you give them 
a chance, and we discussed sport up and down 
the globe, for he had hunted a bit in his day. 

We went to his study for coffee, a jolly 
room full of books and trophies and untidi- 
ness and comfort. I made up my mind that if 
ever I got rid of this business and had a house 
of my own, I would create just such a room. 



Then when the coffee-cups were cleared away, 
and we had got our cigars alight, my host 
swung his long legs over the side of his chair 
and bade me get started with my yarn. 

‘TVe obeyed Harry’s instructions,” he said, 
“and the bribe he offered me was that you 
would tell me something to wake me up. 
I’m ready, Mr. Hannay.” I noticed with a 
start that he called me by my proper name. 

I began at the very beginning. I told of 
my boredom in London, and the night I had 
come back to find Scudder gibbering on my 
door-step. I told him all Scudder had told 
me about Karolides and the Foreign Office 
conference, and that made him purse his lips 
and grin. Then I got to the murder, and he 
grew solemn again. He heard all about the 
milkman and my time in Galloway, and my 
deciphering Scudder’s notes at the inn. 

“You’ve got them here?” he asked sharply, 
and drew a long breath when I whipped the 
little book from my pocket. 

I said nothing of the contents. Then I 
described my meeting with Sir Harry, and 


the speeches at the hall. At that he laughed 

‘^Harry talked dashed nonsense, did he? I 
quite believe it. He’s as good a chap as ever 
breathed, but his idiot of an uncle has stuffed 
his head with maggots. Go on, Mr. Han- 

My day as roadman excited him a bit. He 
made me describe the two fellows in the car 
very closely, and seemed to be raking back 
in his memory. He grew merry again when 
he heard of the fate of that ass, Jopley. 

But the old man in the moorland house 
solemnised him. Again I had to describe 
every detail of his appearance. 

“Bland and bald-headed and hooded his 
eyes like a bird. . . . He sounds a sinister 
wild fowl! And you dynamited his hermit- 
age, after he had saved you from the police? 
Spirited piece of work, that!” 

Presently I reached the end of my wan- 
derings. He got up slowly and looked down 
at me from the hearth-rug. 

“You may dismiss the police from your 
1 66 


mind,” he said. ‘^You’re in no danger from 
the law of this land.” 

^^Great Scott!” I cried. ^‘Have they got the 

^‘No. But for the last fortnight they have 
dropped you from the list of possibles.” 

^Why?” I asked in amazement. 

“Principally because I received a letter 
from Scudder. I knew something of the man, 
and he did several jobs for me. He was half 
crank, half genius, but he was wholly honest. 
The trouble about him was his partiality for 
playing a lone hand. That made him pretty 
well useless in any secret service — a pity, for 
he had uncommon gifts. I think he was the 
bravest man in the world, for he was always 
shivering with fright, and yet nothing would 
choke him off. I had a letter from him on the 
31st of May.” 

“But he had been dead a week by then.” 

“The letter was written and posted on the 
23rd. He evidently did not anticipate an 
immediate decease. His communications usu- 
ally took a week to reach me, for they were 


sent under cover to Spain and then to New- 
castle. He had a mania, you know, for con- 
cealing his tracks.” 

‘What did he say?” I stammered. 

“Nothing. Merely that he was in danger, 
but had found shelter with a good friend, 
and that I would hear from him before the 
15th of June. He gave me no address, but 
said he was living near Portland Place. I 
think his object was to clear you if anything 
happened. When I got it I went to Scotland 
Yard, went over the details of the inquest, and 
concluded that you were the friend. We 
made inquiries about you, Mr. Hannay, and 
found you were respectable. I thought I 
knew the motives for your disappearance — 
not only the police, the other one too — and 
when I got Harry’s scrawl I guessed at the 
rest. I have been expecting you any time 
this past week.” 

You can imagine what a load this took off 
my mind. I felt a free man once more, for I 
was now up against my country’s enemies 
only, and not my country’s law. 



^^Now let us have the little note-book,” 
said Sir Walter. 

It took us a good hour to work through it. 
I explained the cypher, and he was jolly quick 
at picking it up. He amended my reading of 
it on several points, but I had been fairly cor- 
rect, on the whole. His face was very grave 
before he had finished, and he sat silent for 
a while. 

don’t know what to make of it,” he said 
at last. ‘^He is right about one thing — ^what is 
going to happen the day after to-morrow. 
How the devil can it have got known? That 
is ugly enough in itself. But all this about 
war and the Black Stone — it reads like some 
wild melodrama. If only I had more confi- 
dence in Scudder’s judgment. The trouble 
about him was that he was too romantic. He 
had the artistic temperament, and wanted a 
story to be better than God meant it to be. He 
had a lot of odd biases, too. Jews, for ex- 
ample, made him see red. Jews and the high 

“The Black Stone,” he repeated. *'Der 


Schwarze stein. It’s like a penny novelette. 
And all this stuff about Karolides. That is 
the weak part of the tale, for I happen to 
know that the virtuous Karolides is likely 
to outlast us both. There is no state in Eu- 
rope that wants him gone. Besides, he has 
just been playing up to Berlin and Vienna 
and giving my chief some uneasy moments. 
No! Scudder has gone off the track there. 
Frankly, Hannay, I don’t believe that part 
of his story. There’s some nasty business 
afoot, and he found out too much and lost his 
life over it. But I am ready to take my oath 
that it is ordinary spy work. A certain great 
European power makes a hobby of her spy 
system and her methods are not too particular. 
Since she pays by piece-work her blackguards 
are not likely to stick at a murder or two. 
They want our naval dispositions for their col- 
lection at the Marinamt; but they will be 
pigeon-holed — nothing more,” 

Just then the butler entered the room. 

‘‘There’s a trunk-call from London, Sir 


Walter. It’s Mr. ’Eath, and he wants to 
speak to you personally.” 

My host went off to the telephone. 

He returned in five minutes with a whitish 
face. apologise to the shade of Scudder,” 
he said. ^^Karolides was shot dead this even- 
ing at a few minutes after seven!” 




I CAME down to breakfast next morning, 
after eight hours of blessed dreamless 
sleep, to find Sir Walter decoding a telegram 
in the midst of muffins and marmalade. His 
fresh rosiness of yesterday seemed a thought 

had a busy hour on the telephone after 
you went to bed,” he said. ‘T got my chief to 
speak to the First Lord and the Secretary for 
War, and they are bringing Royer over a day 
sooner. This wire clinches it. He will be in 
London at five. Odd that the code word for 
a Sous-chef d'Etat Major General should be 

He directed me to the hot dishes and went 

‘‘Not that I think it will do much good. If 
your friends were clever enough to find out 


the first arrangement they are clever enough 
to discover the change. I would give my 
head to know where the leak is. We believed 
there were only five men in England who 
knew about Royer’s visit, and you may be 
certain there were fewer in France, for they 
manage these things better there.” 

While I ate he continued to talk, making 
me to my surprise a present of his full confi- 

‘‘Can the dispositions not be changed?” I 

“They could,” he said. “But we want to 
avoid that if possible. They are the result of 
immense thought, and no alteration would be 
as good. Besides, on one or two points change 
is simply impossible. Still, something could 
be done, if it were absolutely necessary. But 
you see the difficultyj Hannay. Our enemies 
are not going to be such fools as to pick Roy- 
er’s pocket or any childish game like that. 
They know that would mean a row and 
put us on our guard. Their aim is to get the 
details without any of us knowing, so that 



Royer will go back to Paris in the belief that 
the whole business is still deadly secret. If 
they can’t do that they fail, for once we sus- 
pect they know that the whole thing must be 

‘‘Then we must stick by the Frenchman’s 
side till he is home again,” I said. “If they 
thought they could get the information in 
Paris they would try there. It means that 
they have some deep scheme on foot in Lon- 
don which they reckon is going to win out.” 

“Royer dines with my chief, and then comes 
to my house where four people will see him 
— Whittaker from the Admiralty, myself. Sir 
Arthur Drew, and General Winstanley. The 
First Lord is ill, and has gone to Sheringham. 
At my house he will get a certain document 
from Whittaker, and after that he will be 
motored to Portsmouth where a destroyer will 
take him to Havre. His journey is too im- 
portant for the ordinary boat-train. He will 
never be left unattended for a moment till 
he is safe on French soil. The same with 
Whittaker till he meets Royer. That is the 



best we can do and it’s hard to see how there 
can be any miscarriage. But I don’t mind 
admitting that I’m horribly nervous. This 
murder of Karolides will play the deuce in 
the chancellories of Europe.” 

After breakfast he asked me if I could drive 
a car. 

‘Well, you’ll be my chauffeur to-day and 
wear Hudson’s rig. You’re about his size. 
You have a hand in this business and we are 
taking no risks. There are desperate men 
against us, who will not respe.ct the country 
retreat of an over-worked official.” 

When I first came to London I had bought 
a car and amused myself with running about 
the south of England, so I knew something of 
the geography. I took Sir Walter to town 
by the Bath Road and made good going. It 
was a soft breathless June morning, with a 
promise of sultriness later, but it was delicious 
enough swinging through the little towns with 
their freshly watered streets, and past the 
summer gardens of the Thames valley. I 
landed Sir Walter at his house in Queen 



Anne’s Gate punctually by half-past eleven. 
The butler was coming up by train with the 

The first thing he did was to take me round 
to Scotland Yard. There we saw a prim gen- 
tleman, with a clean-shaven lawyer’s face. 

‘T’ve brought you the Portland Place mur- 
derer,” was Sir Walter’s introduction. 

The reply was a wry smile. “It would have 
been a welcome present, Bullivant. This, I 
presume, is Mr. Richard Hannay, who for 
some days greatly interested my department.” 

“Mr. Hannay will interest it again. He has 
much to tell you, but not to-day. For certain 
grave reasons his tale must wait for twenty- 
four hours. Then, I can promise you, you 
will be entertained and possibly edified. I 
want you to assure Mr. Hannay that he will 
suffer no further inconvenience.” 

This assurance was promptly given. “You 
can take up your life where you left off,” I 
was told. “Your flat, which probably you 
no longer wish to occupy, is waiting for you, 
and your man is still there. As you were 


never publicly accused, we considered that 
there was no need of a public exculpation. 
But on that, of course, you must please your- 

‘We may want your assistance later on, 
MacGillivray,” Sir Walter said as we left. 

Then he turned me loose. 

“Come and see me to-morrow, Hannay. I 
needn’t tell you to keep deadly quiet. If I 
were you I would go to bed, for you must 
have considerable arrears of sleep to overtake. 
You had better lie low, for if one of your 
Black Stone friends saw you there might be 

I felt curiously at a loose end. At first it 
was very pleasant to be a free man, able to go 
where I wanted without fearing anything. I 
had only been a month under the ban of the 
law and it was quite enough for me. I went 
to the Savoy and ordered very carefully a 
very good luncheon, and then smoked the 
best cigar the house could provide. But I 
was still feeling nervous. When I saw any- 
body look at me in the lounge, I grew shy, and 



wondered if they were thinking about the 

After that I took a taxi and drove miles 
away up into North London. I walked back 
through the fields and lines of villas and ter- 
races and then slums and mean streets, and it 
took me pretty nearly two hours. All the 
while my restlessness was growing worse. I 
felt that great things, tremendous things, were 
happening or about to happen, and I, who 
was the cog-wheel of the whole business, was 
out of it. Royer would be landing at Dover, 
Sir Walter would be making plans with the 
few people in England who were in the se- 
cret, and somewhere in the darkness the Black 
Stone would be working. I felt the sense of 
danger and impending calamity, and I had 
the curious feeling, too, that I alone could 
avert it, alone could grapple with it. But I 
was out of the game now. How could it be 
otherwise? It was not likely that Cabinet 
Ministers and Admiralty Lords and Generals 
would admit me to their councils. 

I actually began to wish that I could run up 


against one of my three enemies. That would 
lead to developments. I felt that I wanted 
enormously to have a vulgar scrap with those 
gentry, where I could hit out and flatten some- 
thing. I was rapidly getting into a very bad 

I didn’t feel like going back to my flat. 
That had to be faced sometime, but as I still 
had sufficient money, I thought I would put 
*it off till next morning and go to a hotel for 
the night. 

My irritation lasted through dinner, which 
I had at a restaurant in Jermyn Street. I was 
no longer hungry, and let several courses pass 
untasted. I drank the best part of a bottle 
of Burgundy, but it did nothing to cheer me. 
An abominable restlessness had taken posses- 
sion of me. Here was I, a very ordinary fel- 
low with no particular brains, and yet I was 
convinced that somehow I was needed to help 
this business through — that without me it 
would all go to blazes. I told myself it was 
sheer, silly conceit, that four or five of the 
cleverest people living, with all the might of 


the British Empire at their back, had the job 
in hand. Yet I couldn’t be convinced. It 
seemed as if a voice kept speaking in my ear, 
telling me to be up and doing or I would never 
sleep again. 

The upshot was that about half-past nine I 
made up my mind to go to Queen Anne’s 
Gate. Very likely I would not be admitted, 
but it would ease my conscience to try. 

I walked down Jermyn Street and at the 
corner of Duke Street passed a group of young 
men. They were in evening dress, had been 
dining somewhere, and were going on to a 
music-hall. One of them was Mr. Marma- 
duke Jopley. 

He saw me and stopped short. 

‘^By God, the murderer!” he cried. 
“Here, you fellows, hold him! That’s Han- 
nay, the man who did the Portland Place mur- 
der!” He gripped me by the arm and the 
others crowded around. 

I wasn’t looking for any trouble, but my ill 
temper made me play the fool. A policeman 
came up, and I should have told him the 


truth and, if he didn’t believe it, demanded 
to be taken to Scotland Yard or, for that mat- 
ter, to the nearest police station. But a de- 
lay at that moment seemed to me unendur- 
able, and the sight of Marmie’s imbecile 
face was more than I could bear. I let 
out with my left, and had the satisfaction of 
seeing him measure his length in the gutter. 

Then began an unholy row. They were all 
on me at once, and the policeman took me in 
the rear. I got in one or two good blows, for 
I think with fair play I could have licked 
the lot of them, but the policeman pinned 
me behind, and one of them got his fingers 
on my throat. 

Through a black cloud of rage I heard the 
officer of the law asking what was the mat- 
ter, and Marmie, between his broken teeth, 
declaring that I was Hannay, the murderer. 

“Oh, damn it all,” I cried, “make the fel- 
low shut up. I advise you to leave me alone, 
constable. Scotland Yard knows all about 
me, and you’ll get a proper wigging if you 
interfere with me.” 



“You’ve got to come along of me, young 
man,” said the policeman. “I saw you strike 
that gentleman crool ’ard. You began it, 
too, for he wasn’t doing nothing. I seen you. 
Best go quietly or I’ll have to fix you up.” 

Exasperation and an overwhelming sense 
that at no cost must I delay gave me the 
strength of a bull elephant. I fairly wrenched 
the constable off his feet, floored the man 
who was gripping my collar, and set off at 
my best pace down Duke Street. I heard a 
whistle being blown, and the rush of men be- 
hind me. 

I have a very fair turn of speed and that 
night I had wings. In a jiffy I was in Pall 
Mall and had turned down towards St. James’ 
Park. I dodged the policeman at the Palace 
Gates, dived through a press of carriages at 
the entrance to the Mall, and was making for 
the bridge before my pursuers had crossed the 
roadway. In the open ways of the park I put 
on a spurt. Happily there were few people 
about and no one tried to stop me. I was 
staking all on getting to Queen Anne’s Gate. 



When I entered that quiet thoroughfare it 
seemed deserted. Sir Walter’s house was in 
the narrow part and outside it three or four 
motor-cars were drawn up. I slackened speed 
some yards off and walked briskly up to the 
door. If the butler refused me admission, or 
if he even delayed to open the door, I was 

He didn’t delay. I had scarcely rung be- 
fore the door opened. 

“I must see Sir Walter,” I panted. ‘^My 
business is desperately important.” 

That butler was a great man. Without 
moving a muscle he held the door open, and 
then shut it behind me. “Sir Walter is en- 
gaged, sir, and I have orders to admit no one. 
Perhaps you will wait.” 

The house was of the old-fashioned kind, 
with a wide hall and rooms on both sides of 
it. At the far end was an alcove with a tele- 
phone and a couple of chairs, and there the 
butler offered me a seat. 

“See here,” I whispered. “There’s trouble 
about and I’m in it. But Sir Walter knows 


and I’m working for him. If any one comes 
and asks if I am here, tell him a lie.” 

He nodded, and presently there was a noise 
of voices in the street and a furious ringing 
at the bell. I never admired a man more 
than that butler. He opened the door and 
with a face like a graven image waited to 
be questioned. 

Then he gave it them. He told them whose 
house it was and what his orders were and 
simply froze them off the doorstep. I could 
see it all from my alcove, and it was better 
than any play. 

I hadn’t waited long till there came an- 
other ring at the bell. The butler made no 
bones about admitting this new visitor. 

While he was taking off his coat I saw who 
it was. You couldn’t open a newspaper or a 
magazine without seeing that face — the grey 
beard cut like a spade, the firm fighting 
mouth, the blunt square nose, and the keen 
blue eyes. I recognised the First Sea Lord, 
the man, they say, that made the new British 



He passed my alcove and was ushered into 
a room at the back of the hall. As the door 
opened I could hear the sound of low voices. 
It shut, and I was left alone again. 

For twenty minutes I sat there, wondering 
what I was to do next. I was still perfectly 
convinced that I was wanted, but when or how 
I had no notion. I kept looking at my watch, 
and as the time crept on to half-past ten I be- 
gan to think that the conference must soon 
end. In a quarter of an hour Royer should be 
speeding along the road to Portsmouth. 

Then I heard a bell ring and the butler 
appeared. The door of the back room opened, 
and the First Sea Lord came out. He walked 
past me, and in passing he glanced in my di- 
rection, and for a second we looked each other 
in the face. 

Only for a second, but it was enough to 
make my heart jump. I had never seen the 
great man before, and he had never seen me. 
But in that fraction of time something sprang 
into his eyes, and that something was recog- 
nition. You can’t mistake it. It is a flicker, 


a spark of light, a minute shade of difference, 
which means one thing and one thing only. 
It came involuntarily, for in a moment it died, 
and he passed on. In a maze of wild fancies 
I heard the street door close behind him. 

I picked up the telephone-book and looked 
up the number of his house. We were con- 
nected at once and I heard a servant’s voice. 

^Ts his lordship at home?” I asked. 

‘‘His lordship returned half an hour ago,” 
said the voice, “and has gone to bed. He is 
not very well to-night. Will you leave a mes- 
sage, sir?” 

I rang off and sat down numbly in a chair. 
My part in this business was not yet ended. It 
had been a close shave, but I had been in 

Not a moment could be lost, so I marched 
boldly to the door of that back room and en- 
tered without knocking. Five surprised faces 
looked up from a round table. There was 
Sir Walter, and Drew, the war minister, 
whom I knew from his photographs. There 
was a slim, elderly man, who was probably 
1 86 


Whittaker, the Admiralty official, and there 
was General Winstanley, conspicuous from 
the long scar on his forehead. Lastly there 
was a short stout man with an iron-grey mous- 
tache and bushy eyebrows, who had been ar- 
rested in the middle of a sentence. 

Sir Walter’s face showed surprise and an- 

^^This is Mr. Hannay, of whom I have spok- 
en to you,” he said apologetically to the com- 
pany. “I’m afraid, Hannay, this visit is ill- 

I was getting back my coolness. “That re- 
mains to be seen, sir,” I said, “but I think it 
may be in the nick of time. For God’s sake, 
gentlemen, tell me who went out a minute 

“Lord Alloa,” Sir Walter said, reddening 
with anger. 

“It was not,” I cried. “It was his living 
image, but it was not Lord Alloa. It was 
some one who recognised me, some one I have 
seen in the last month. He had scarcely left 
the doorstep when I rang up Lord Alloa’s 



house and was told he had come in half an 
hour before and had gone to bed.” 

^Who — who ” some one stammered. 

‘^The Black Stone,” I cried, and I sat down 
in the chair so recently vacated and looked 
round at five badly scared gentlemen. 




N ONSENSE!” said the ofBcial from 
the Admiralty. 

Sir Walter got up and left the room, while 
we looked blankly at the table. He came 
back in ten minutes with a long face. “I have 
spoken to Alloa,” he said. ^^Had him out of 
bed — very grumpy. He went straight home 
after Mulross’s dinner.” 

“But it’s madness,” broke in General Win- 
stanley. “Do you mean to tell me that that 
man came here and sat beside me for the best 
part of half an hour, and that I didn’t detect 
the imposture? Alloa must be out of his 

“Don’t you see the . cleverness of it?” I 
said. “You were too interested in other things 
to have the use of your eyes. You took Lord 
Alloa for granted. If it had been anybody 


else you might have looked more closely, but 
it was natural for him to be here, and that put 
you all to sleep.” 

Then the Frenchman spoke, very slowly 
and in good English. 

“The young man is right. His psychology 
is good. Our enemies have not been foolish!” 

“But I don’t see,” went on Winstanley. 
“Their object was to get these dispositions 
without our knowing it. Now it only re- 
quired one of us to mention to Alloa our meet- 
ing to-night for the whole fraud^to be ex- 

Sir Walter laughed drily. “The selection 
of Alloa shows their acumen. Which of us 
was likely to speak to him about to-night? 
Or was he likely to open the subject?” I 
remembered the First Sea Lord’s reputation 
for taciturnity and shortness of temper. 

“The one thing that puzzles me,” said the 
General, “is what good his visit here would 
do that spy fellow? He could not carry away 
several pages of figures and strange names in 
his head.” 


‘That is not difficult,” the Frenchman re- 
plied. “A good spy is trained to have a photo- 
graphic memory. Like your own Macaulay. 
You noticed he said nothing, but went through 
these papers again and again. I think we may 
assume that he has every detail stamped on his 
mind. When I was younger I could do the 
same trick.” 

“Well, I suppose there is nothing for it 
but to change the plans,” said Sir Walter rue- 

Whittaker was looking very glum. “Did 
you tell Lord Alloa what had happened?” 
he asked. “No! I can’t speak with absolute 
assurance, but I’m nearly certain we can’t 
make any serious change unless we alter the 
geography of England.” 

“Another thing must be said,” it was Royer 
who spoke. “I talked freely when that man 
was here. I told something of the military 
plans of my Government. I was permitted to 
say so much. But that information would be 
worth many millions to our enemies. No, my 
friends, I see no other way. The man who 


came here and his confederates must be taken 
and taken at once.” 

“Good God,” I cried, “and we have not a 
rag of a clue.” 

“Besides,” said Whittaker, “there is the 
post. By this time the news will be on its 

“No,” said the Frenchman. “You do not 
understand the habits of the spy. He receives 
personally his reward, and he delivers per- 
sonally his intelligence. We in France know 
something of the breed. There is still a 
chance, mes amis. These men must cross 
the sea, and there are ships to be searched 
and ports to be watched. Believe me, the 
need is desperate for both France and 

Royer’s grave good sense seemed to pull us 
together. He was the man of action among 
fumblers. But I saw no hope in any face, and 
I felt none. Where among the fifty millions 
of these islands and within a dozen hours were 
we to lay hands on the three cleverest rogues 
in Europe? 



Then suddenly I had an inspiration. 

^Where is Scudder’s book?” I asked Sir t 
Walter. ‘‘Quick, man, I remember some- 
thing in it.” 

He unlocked the drawer of a bureau and 
gave it to me. 

I found the place. ^^Thirty-nine steps,** I 
read, and again ^^Thirty-nine steps — I counted 
them — High tide 10 . 1 y p.m.** 

The Admiralty man was looking at me as 
if he thought I had gone mad. 

“Don’t you see it’s a clue,” I cried. “Scud- 
der knew where these fellows laired — he knew 
where they were going to leave the country; 
though he kept the name to himself. To-mor- 
row was the day, and it was some place where 
high tide was at 10.17.” 

- “They may have gone to-night,” some one 

“Not them. They have their own snug 
secret way, and they won’t be hurried. I know 
Germans, and they are mad about working to 
a plan. Where the devil can I get a book of 
Tide Tables?” 



Whittaker brightened up. ‘Tt’s a chance,” 
he said. “Let’s go over to the Admiralty.” 

We got into two of the waiting motor-cars 
— all but Sir Walter, who went off to Scotland 
Yard — to “mobilise MacGillivray,” so he 

We marched through empty corridors and 
big bare chambers where the charwomen 
were busy, till we reached a little room lined 
with books and maps. A resident clerk was 
unearthed, who presently fetched from the li- 
brary the Admiralty Tide Tables. I sat at 
the desk and the others stood round, for 
somehow or other I had got charge of this 

It was no good. There were hundreds of 
entries, and as far as I could see 10.17 J^ight 
cover fifty places. We had to find some way 
of narrowing the possibilities. 

I took my head in my hands and thought. 
There must be some way of reading this riddle. 
What did Scudder mean by steps? I thought 
of dock steps, but if he had meant that I 
didn’t think he would have mentioned the 


number. It must be some place where there 
were several staircases and one marked out 
from the others by having thirty-nine steps. 

Then I had a sudden thought and hunted 
up all the steamer sailings. There was^ no 
boat which left for the Continent at 10.17 
P. M. 

Why was high tide important? If it was 
a harbour it must be some little place where 
the tide mattered, or else it was a heavy- 
draught boat. But there was no regular 
steamer sailing at that hour, and somehow I 
didn’t think they would travel by a big boat 
from a regular harbour. So it must be some 
little harbour where the tide was important, 
or perhaps no harbour at all. 

But if it was a little port I couldn’t see what 
the steps signified. There were no sets of 
staircases at any harbour that I had ever seen. 
It must be some place which a particular stair- 
case identified, and where the tide was full at 
10.17. On the whole it seemed to me that the 
place must be a bit of open coast. But the 
staircases kept puzzling me. 



Then I went back to wider considerations. 
Whereabouts would a man be likely to leave 
for Germany, a man in a hurry who wanted a 
speedy and a secret passage? Not from any of 
the big harbours. And not from the Channel 
or the West coast or the north or Scotland, for, 
remember, he was starting from London. I 
measured the distance on the map, and tried to 
put myself in the enemy’s shoes. I should try 
for Ostend or Antwerp or Rotterdam and I 
should sail from somewhere on the east coast 
between Cromer and Dover. 

All this was very loose guessing and I 
don’t pretend it was ingenious or scientific. 
I wasn’t any kind of Sherlock Holmes. But 
I have always fancied I had a kind of in- 
stinct about questions like this. I don’t 
know if I can explain myself, but I used 
to use my brains as far as they went, 
and after they came to a blank wall I 
guessed, and I usually found my guesses 
pretty right. 

So I set out all my conclusions on a bit of 
Admiralty paper. They ran like this: 




(1) Place where there are several sets of stairs: one 
that matters distinguished by having thirty-nine steps. 

(2) Full tide at 10.17 Leaving shore only pos- 

sible at full tide. 

(3) Steps not dock-steps and so place probably not 

(4) No regular night steamer at 10.17. Means of 
transport must be tramp (unlikely), yacht or fishing-boat. 

There my reasoning stopped. I made an- 
other list, which I headed ^^Guessed,” but I 
was just as sure of the one as the other. 


( 1 ) Place not harbour but open coast. 

(2) Boat small — trawler, yacht or launch. 

(3) Place somewhere on east coast between Cromer 
and Dover. 

It struck me as odd that I should be sit- 
ting at that desk with a Cabinet Minister, a 
Field Marshal, twovhigh Government officials, 
and a French General watching me, while 
from the scribble of a dead man I was trying 
to drag a secret which meant life or death 
for us. 



Sir Walter had joined us, and presently 
MacGillivray arrived. He had sent out in- 
structions to watch the ports and railway sta- 
tions for the three gentlemen whom I had de- 
scribed to Sir Walter. Not that he or any- 
body else thought that that would do much 

^^Here’s the most I can make of it,” I said. 
^We have got to find a place where there are 
several staircases down to the beach, one of 
which has thirty-nine steps. I think it’s a 
piece of open coast with biggish cliffs some- 
where between the Wash and the Channel. 
Also it’s a place where full tide is at 10.17 to- 
morrow night.” 

Then an idea struck me. ‘Ts there no In- 
spector of Coastguards or some fellow like 
that who knows the east coast?” 

Whittaker said there was and that he lived 
in Clapham. He went off in a car to fetch 
him, and the rest of us sat about the little 
room and talked of anything that came into 
our heads. I lit a pipe and went over the 
whole thing again till my brain grew weary. 


About one in the morning the coastguard 
man arrived. He was a fine old fellow with 
the look of a naval officer, and was desperate- 
ly respectful to the company. I left the War 
Minister to cross-examine him, for I felt he 
would think it cheek in me to talk. 

‘We want you to tell us the places you 
know on the east coast where there are cliffs, 
and where several sets of steps run down 
to the beach.” 

He thought for a bit. ‘What kind of steps 
do you mean, sir? There are plenty of places 
with roads cut down through the cliffs, and 
most roads have a step or two in them. Or 
do you mean regular staircases — all steps, so 
to speak?” 

Sir Arthur looked towards me. “We mean 
regular staircases,” I said. 

He reffected a minute or two. “I don’t 
know that I can think of any. Wait a second. 
There’s a place in Norfolk — Brattlesham — 
beside a golf course, where there are a couple 
of staircases to let the gentlemen get a lost 



‘^That’s not it,” I said. 

^‘Then there are plenty of Marine Parades, 
if that’s what you mean. Every seaside re- 
sort has them.” 

I shook my head. 

“It’s got to be more retired than that,” I 

“Well, gentlemen, I can’t think of any- 
where else. Of course, there’s the Ruff ” 

“What’s that?” I asked. 

“The big chalk headland in Kent, close to 
Bradgate. It’s got a lot of villas on the top, 
and some of the houses have staircases down 
to a private beach. It’s a very high-toned 
sort of place, and the residents there like to 
keep by themselves.” 

I tore open the “Tide Tables” and found 
Bradgate. High tide there was at 10.27 
on the 15th of June. 

“We’re on the scent at last!” I cried excit- 
edly. “How can I find out what is the tide 
at the Ruff?” 

“I can tell you that, sir,” said the coast- 
guard man. “I once was lent a house there 



in this very month, and I used to go out at 
night to the deep-sea fishing. The tide’s ten 
minutes before Bradgate.” 

I closed the book and looked round at the 

“If one of those staircases has thirty-nine 
steps we have solved the mystery, gentlemen,” 
I said. “I want the loan of your car. Sir Wal- 
ter, and a map of the roads. If Mr. MacGil- 
livray will spare me ten minutes I think we 
can prepare something for to-morrow.” 

It was ridiculous in me to take charge of 
the business like this, but they didn’t seem 
to mind, and after all I had been in the 
show from the start. Besides, I was used to 
rough jobs, and these eminent gentlemen were 
too clever not to see it. 

It was General Royer who gave me my 

“I for one,” he said, “am content to leave 
the matter in Mr. Hannay’s hands.” 

By half-past three I was tearing past the 
moonlit hedgerows of Kent with MacGilli- 
vray’s best man on the seat beside me. 



PINK and blue June morning found 

i JL me at Bradgate looking from the 
Griffin Hotel over a smooth sea to the light- 
ship on the Cock sands which seemed the size 
of a bell-buoy. A couple of miles further 
south and much nearer the shore a small de- 
stroyer was anchored. Scaife, MacGillivray’s 
man, who had been in the navy, knew the boat 
and told me her name and her commander’s, 
so I sent off a wire to Sir Walter. 

After breakfast Scaife got from a house- 
agent a key for the gates of the staircases on 
the Ruff. I walked with him along the sands, 
and sat down in a nook of the cliffs while he 
investigated the half dozen of them. I didn’t 
want to be seen, but the place at this hour 
was quite deserted, and all the time I was on 
that beach I saw nothing but the sea-gulls. 



It took him more than an hour to do the 
job, and when I saw him coming towards me, 
conning a bit of paper, I can tell you my 
heart was in my mouth. Everything depend- 
ed, you see, on my guess proving right. 

He read aloud the number of steps in the 
different stairs. ‘‘Thirty-four, thirty-five, thir- 
ty-nine, forty-two, forty-seven, and twenty- 
one,” where the cliffs grew lower. I almost 
got up and shouted. 

We hurried back to the town and sent a 
wire to MacGillivray. I wanted half a dozen 
men and I directed them to divide themselves 
among different specified hotels. Then Scaife 
set out to prospect the house at the head of the 
thirty-nine steps. 

He came back with news that both puzzled 
and reassured me. The house was called 
Trafalgar Lodge, and belonged to an old gen- 
tleman called Appleton — a retired stock- 
broker, the house-agent said. Mt. Appleton 
was there a good deal in the summer time, 
and was in residence now — had been for the 
better part of a week. Scaife could pick up 


very little information about him, except that 
he was a decent old fellow, who paid his bills 
regularly and was always good for a fiver for 
a local charity. Then Scaife seems to have 
penetrated to the back door of the house, pre- 
tending he was an agent for sewing machines. 
Only three servants were kept, a cook, a 
parlour-maid, and a housemaid, and they were 
just the sort that you would find in a respect- 
able middle-class household. The cook was 
not the gossiping kind, and had pretty soon 
shut the door in his face, but Scaife said he 
was positive she knew nothing. Next door 
there was a new house building which would 
give good cover for observation, and the villa 
on the other side was to let, and its garden 
was rough and shrubby. 

I borrowed Scaife’s telescope, and before 
lunch went for a walk along the Rufi. I kept 
well behind the rows of villas, and found a 
good observation point on the edge of the 
golf course. There I had a view of the line 
of turf along the cliff top, with seats placed 
at intervals and the little square plots, railed 


in and planted with bushes, whence the stair- 
cases descended to the beach. I saw Trafalgar 
Lodge very plainly, a red-brick villa with a 
verandah, a tennis lawn behind, and in front 
the ordinary seaside flower-garden full of 
marguerites and scraggy geraniums. There 
was a flagstaff from which an enormous union 
jack hung limply in the still air. 

Presently I observed some one leave the 
house and saunter along the cliff. When I got 
my glasses on him I saw it was an old man, 
wearing white flannel trousers, a blue serge 
jacket and a straw hat. He carried field- 
glasses and a newspaper, and sat down on one 
of the iron seats and began to read. Some- 
times he would lay down the paper and turn 
his glasses on the sea. He looked for a long 
time at the destroyer. I watched him for 
half an hour, till he got up and went back 
to the house for his luncheon, when I returned 
to the hotel for mine. 

I wasn’t feeling very confident. This de- 
cent commonplace dwelling was not what I 
had expected. The man might be the bald 


archaeologist of that horrible moorland farm, 
or he might not. He was exactly the kind of 
satisfied old bird you will find in every suburb 
and every holiday place. If you wanted a 
type of the perfectly harmless person you 
would probably pitch on that. 

But after lunch as I sat in the hotel porch 
I perked up, for I saw the thing I had hoped 
for and dreaded to miss. A yacht came up ^ 
fron) the south and dropped anchor pretty 
well opposite the Ruff. She seemed about a 
hundred and fifty tons and I saw she belonged 
to the Squadron from the white ensign. So 
Scaife and I went down to the harbour 
and hired a boatman for an afternoon’s fish- 

I spent a warm and peaceful afternoon. 
We caught between us about twenty pounds 
of cod and lythe, and out in that dancing 
blue sea I took a cheerier view of things. 
Above the white cliffs of the Ruff I saw the 
green and red of the villas, and especially 
the great flagstaff of Trafalgar Lodge. About 
four o’clock when we had fished enough I 


made the boatman row us round the yacht, 
which lay like a delicate white bird, ready 
at a moment to flee. Scaife said she must be 
a fast boat from her build, and that she was 
pretty heavily engined. 

Her name was the Ariadne, as I discovered 
from the cap of one of the men who was 
polishing brass-work. I spoke to him and 
got an answer in the soft dialect of Essex. 
Another hand that came along passed me the 
time of day in an unmistakable English 
tongue. Our boatman had an argument with 
one of them about the weather, and for a few 
minutes we lay on our oars close to the star- 
board bow. 

Then the men suddenly disregarded us 
and bent their heads to their work as an of- 
ficer came along the deck. He was a pleasant, 
clean-looking young fellow, and he put a ques- 
tion to us about our fishing in very good Eng- 
lish. But there could be no doubt about him. 
His close-cropped head and the cut of his 
collar and tie never came out of England. 

That did something to reassure me, but as 


we rowed back to Bradgate my obstinate 
doubts would not be dismissed. The thing 
that worried me was the reflection that my 
enemies knew that I had got my knowledge 
from Scudder, and it was Scudder who had 
given me the clue to this place. If they knew 
that Scudder had this clue would they not be 
certain to change their plans? Too much de- 
pended on their success for them to take any 
risks. The whole question was how much 
they understood about Scudder’s knowledge. 
I had talked confidently last night about Ger- 
mans always sticking to a scheme, but if they 
had any suspicions that I was on their track 
they would be fools not to cover it. I won- 
dered if the man last night had seen that I 
recognised him. Somehow I did not think 
he had, and to that I clung. But the whole 
business had never seemed so difficult as that 
afternoon when by all calculations I should- 
have been rejoicing in assured success. 

In the hotel I met the commander of the 
destroyer, to whom Scaife introduced me and 
with whom I had a few words. Then I 


thought I would put in an hour or two watch- 
ing Trafalgar Lodge. 

I found a place further up the hill in the 
garden of an empty house. From there I 
had a full view of the court, on which two 
figures were having a game of tennis. One 
was the old man, whom I had already 
seen ; the other was a younger fellow, wearing 
some club colours in the scarf round his mid- 
dle. They played with tremendous zest, like 
two city gents who wanted hard exercise to. 
open their pores. You couldn’t conceive a 
more innocent spectacle. They shouted and 
laughed and stopped for drinks, when a maid 
brought out two tankards on a salver. I 
rubbed my eyes and asked myself if I was 
not the most immortal fool on earth. Mystery 
and darkness had hung about the men who 
hunted me over the Scotch moors in aeroplane 
and motor-car, and notably about that in- 
fernal antiquarian. It was easy enough to 
connect these folk with th . knife that pinned 
Scudder to the floor, and with fell designs 
on the world’s peace. But here were two 


guileless citizens, taking their innocuous exer- 
cise, and soon about to go indoors to a hum- 
drum dinner, where they would talk of mar- 
ket prices and the last cricket scores and the 
gossip of their native Surbiton. I had been 
making a net to catch vultures and falcons, 
and lo and behold! two plump thrushes had 
blundered into it. 

Presently a third figure arrived, a young 
man on a bicycle, with a bag of golf-clubs 
slung on his back. He strolled round to the 
tennis lawn and was welcomed riotously by 
the players. Evidently they were chaffing 
him, and their chaff sounded horribly Eng- 
lish. Then the plump man, mopping his brow 
with a silk handkerchief, announced that he 
must have a tub. I heard his very words — 
“IVe got into a proper lather,” he said. “This 
will bring down my weight and my handicap. 
Bob. I’ll take you on to-morrow and give 
you a stroke a hole.” You couldn’t find any- 
thing much more English than that. 

They all went into the house, and left me 
feeling a precious idiot. I had been barking 



up the wrong tree this time. These men might 
be acting; but if they were where was their 
audience? They didn’t know I was sitting 
thirty yards off in a rhododendron. It was 
simply impossible to believe that these three 
hearty fellows were anything but what they 
seemed — three ordinary, game-playing, sub- 
urban Englishmen, wearisome, if you like, 
but sordidly innocent. 

And yet there were three of them; and one 
was old, and one was plump, and one was lean 
and dark; and their house chimed in with 
Scudder’s notes ; and half a mile off was ly- 
ing a steam yacht with at least one German 
officer. I thought of Karolides lying dead 
and all Europe trembling on the edge of an 
earthquake, and the men I had left behind me 
in London, who were waiting anxiously on 
the events of the next hours. There was no 
doubt that hell was afoot somewhere. The 
Black Stone had won, and if it survived this 
June night would bank its winnings. 

There seemed only one thing to do — go for- 
ward as if I had no doubts, and if I was going 



to make a fool of myself to do it handsomely. 
Never in my life have I faced a job with 
greater disinclination. I would rather in my 
then mind have walked into a den of anar- 
chists, each with his Browning handy, or faced 
a charging lion with a popgun, than enter the 
happy home of three cheerful Englishmen 
and tell them that their game was up. How 
they would laugh at me! 

But suddenly I remembered a thing I once 
heard in Rhodesia from old Peter Pienaar. 
I have quoted Peter already in this narrative. 
He was the best scout I ever knew, and be- 
fore he had turned respectable he had been 
pretty often on the windy side of the law, 
when he had been wanted badly by the au- 
thorities. Peter once discussed with me the 
question of disguises, and he had a theory 
which struck me at the time. He said, bar- 
ring absolute certainties like finger-prints, 
mere physical traits were very little use for 
identification if the fugitive really knew his 
business. He laughed at things like dyed 
hair and false beards and such childish follies. 



The only thing that mattered was what 
Peter called ‘^atmosphere.” If a man could 
get into perfectly different surroundings from 
those in which he had been first observed, and 
— this is the important part — really play up 
to these surroundings and behave as if he had 
never been out of them, he would puzzle the 
cleverest detectives on earth. And he used to 
tell a story of how he once borrowed a black 
coat and went to church and shared the same 
hymn-book with the man that was looking 
for him. If that man had seen him in decent 
company before he would have recognised 
him; but he had only seen him snuffing the 
lights in a public-house with a revolver. 

The recollection of Peter’s talk gave me the 
first real comfort I had had that day. Peter 
had been a wise old bird, and these fellows 
I was after were about the pick of the aviary. 
What if they were playing Peter’s game? 
A fool tries to look different; a clever man 
looks the same and is different. 

Again, there was that other maxim of Pe- 
ter’s, which had helped me when I had been 


a roadman. “If you are playing a part, you 
will never keep it up unless you convince 
yourself that you are itf* That would explain 
the game of tennis. Those chaps didn’t need 
to act, they just turned a handle and passed 
into another life, which came as naturally to 
them as the first. It sounds a platitude, but 
Peter used to say that it was the big secret 
of all the famous criminals. 

It was now getting on for eight o’clock, and 
I went back and saw Scaife to give him his 
instructions. I arranged with him how to 
place his men, and then I went for a walk, for 
I didn’t feel up to any dinner. I went round 
the deserted golf-course, and then to a point 
on the cliffs further north, beyond the line 
of the villas. On the little, trim, newly made 
roads I met people in flannels coming back 
from tennis and the beach, and a coastguard 
from the wireless station, and donkeys and 
pierrots padding homewards. Out at sea in 
the blue dusk I saw lights appear on the Art- 
adne and on the destroyer away to the south, 
and beyond the Cock sands the bigger lights 


of steamers making for the Thames. The 
whole scene was so peaceful and ordinary that 
I got more dashed in spirits every second. It 
took all my resolution to stroll towards Traf- 
algar Lodge about half-past nine. 

On the way I got a piece of solid comfort 
from the sight of a greyhound that was swing- 
ing along at a nursemaid’s heels. He remind- 
ed me of a dog I used to have in Rhodesia, 
and of the time when I took him hunting with 
me in the Pali hills. We were after rhebok, 
the dun kind, and I recollected how we had 
followed one beast, and both he and I had 
clean lost it. A greyhound works by sight, 
and my eyes are good enough, but that buck 
simply leaked out of the landscape. After- 
wards I found out how it managed it. Against 
the grey rock of the kopjes it showed no more 
than a crow against a thundercloud. It didn’t 
need to run away ; all it had to do was to stand 
still and melt into the background. Suddenly 
as these memories chased across my brain I 
thought of my present case and applied the 
moral. The Black Stone didn’t need to bolt. 


They were quietly absorbed into the land- 
scape. I was on the right track, and I jammed 
that down in my mind and vowed never to for- 
get it. The last word was with Peter Pienaar. 

Scaife’s men would be posted now, but 
there was no sign of a soul. The house stood 
as open as a market-place for anybody to ob- 
serve. A three-foot railing separated it from 
the cliff road ; the low sound of voices revealed 
where the occupants were finishing dinner. 
Everything was as public and above-board as 
a charity bazaar. Feeling the greatest fool 
on earth, I opened the gate and rang the 

A man of my sort, who has travelled about 
the world in rough places, gets on perfectly 
well with two classes, what you may call the 
upper and the lower. He understands them 
and they understand him. I was at home with 
herds and tramps and roadmen, and I was 
sufficiently at my ease with people like Sir 
Walter and the men I had met the night be- 
fore. I can’t explain why, but it is a fact. But 
what fellows like me don’t understand is the 


great comfortable, satisfied middle-class 
world, the folk that live in villas and suburbs. 
He doesn’t know how they look at things, 
he doesn’t understand their conventions, and 
he is as shy of them as of a black mamba. 
When a trim parlour-maid opened the door, 
I could hardly find my voice. 

I asked for Mr. Appleton and was ushered 
in. My plan had been to walk straight into 
the dining-room and by a sudden appearance 
wake in the men that start of recognition 
which would confirm my theory. But when 
I found myself in that neat hall the place mas- 
tered me. There were the golf-clubs and ten- 
nis-rackets, the straw hats and caps, the rows 
of gloves, the sheaf of walking-sticks which 
you will find in ten thousand British homes. 
A stack of neatly folded coats and waterproofs 
covered the top of an old oak chest; there was 
a grandfather clock ticking; and some pol- 
ished brass warming-pans on the walls, and a 
barometer, and a print of Chiltern winning 
the St. Leger. The place was as orthodox as an 
Anglican Church. When the maid asked me 


for my name I gave it automatically, and was 
shown into the smoking-room on the right side 
of the hall. That room was even worse. I 
hadn’t time to examine it, but I could see some 
framed group photographs above the mantel- 
piece and I could have sworn they were Eng- 
lish public-school or college. I had only one 
glance, for I managed to pull myself together, 
and go after the maid. But I was too late. 
She had already entered the dining-room and 
given my name to her master, and I had 
missed the chance of seeing how the three took 

When I walked into the room the old man 
at the head of the table had risen and turned 
round to meet me. He was in evening dress 
— a short coat and black tie, as was the other 
whom I called in my own mind the plump 
one. The third, the dark fellow, wore a blue 
serge suit and a soft white collar and the col- 
ours of some club or school. 

The old man’s manner was perfect. ‘^Mr. 
Hannay?” he said, hesitatingly. “Did you 

wish to sec me? One moment, you fellows, 


and I’ll rejoin you. We had better go to the 

Though I hadn’t an ounce of confidence in 
me I forced myself to play the game. I 
pulled up a chair and sat down on it. 

“I think we have met before,” I said, “and 
I guess you know my business.” 

The light in the room was dim, but so far 
as I could see their faces they played the 
part of mystification very well. 

“Maybe, maybe,” said the old man. “I 
haven’t a very good memory, but I’m afraid 
you must tell me your errand, for I really 
don’t know it.” 

“Well, then,” I said, and all the time I 
seemed to myself to be talking pure foolish- 
ness — “I have come to tell you that the game’s 
up. I have here a warrant for the arrest of 
you three gentlemen.” 

“Arrest,” said the old man, and he looked 
really shocked. “Arrest! Good God, what 

“For the murder of Franklin Scudder, in 
London, on the 23d day of last month.” 



“I never heard the name before,” said the 
old man in a dazed voice. 

One of the others spoke up. “That was the 
Portland Place murder. I read about it. 
Good Heavens, you must be mad, sir! Where 
do you come from?” 

“Scotland Yard,” I said. 

After that, for a minute there was utter si- 
lence. The old man was staring at his plate 
and fumbling with a nut, the very model of 
innocent bewilderment. 

Then the plump one spoke up. He stam- 
mered a little, like a man picking his 

“Don’t get flustered, uncle,” he said. “It is 
all a ridiculous mistake, but these things hap- 
pen sometimes, and we can easily set it right. 
It won’t be hard to prove our innocence. I 
can show that I was out of the country on the 
23d of May, and Bob was in a nursing-home. 
You were in London, but you can explain what 
you were doing.” 

“Right, Percy! Of course that’s easy 
enough. The 23 d! That was the day after 


Agatha’s wedding. Let me see. What was 
I doing? I came up in the morning from 
Woking, and lunched at the club with Charlie 

Symons. Then Oh, yes, I dined with 

the Fishmongers. I remember, for the punch 
didn’t agree with me, and I was seedy next 
morning. Hang it all, there’s the cigar-box 
I brought back from the dinner.” 

He pointed to an object on the table, and 
laughed nervously. 

“I think, sir,” said the young man, address- 
ing me respectfully, “you will see you are mis- 
taken. We want to assist the law like all 
Englishmen, and we don’t want Scotland Yard 
to be making fools of themselves. That’s so, 

“Certainly, Bob.” The old fellow seemed 
to be recovering his voice. “Certainly, we’ll 
do anything in our power to assist the authori- 
ties. But — but this is a bit too much. I can’t 
get over it.” 

“How Nellie will chuckle,” said the plump 
rtian. “She always said that you would die of 
boredom because nothing ever happened to 



you. And now you’ve got it thick and strong,” 
and he began to laugh very pleasantly. 

^‘By Jove, yes. Just think of it! What i 
story to tell at the club. Really, Mr. Hannay. 
I suppose I should be angry, to show my inno- 
cence, but it’s too funny! I almost forgive 
you the fright you gave me! You looked so 
glum I thought I might have been walking 
in my sleep and killing people.” 

It couldn’t be acting, it was too confound- 
edly genuine. My heart went into my boots, 
and my first impulse was to apologise and 
clear out. But I told myself I must see it 
through, even though I was to be the laugh- 
ing-stock of Britain. The light from the 
dinner-table candlesticks was not very good, 
and to cover my confusion I got up, walked to 
the door and switched on the electric light. 
The sudden glare made them blink, and I 
stood scanning the three faces. 

Well, I made nothing of it. One was old 
and bald, one was stout, one was dark and 
thin. There was nothing in their appearance 
to prevent them being the three who had hunt- 



d me in Scotland, but there was nothing to 
ientify them. I simply can’t explain why I, 
^o, as a roadman, had looked into two pairs 
/ eyes, and as Ned Ainslie into another pair, 
A^hy I, who have a good memory and reason- 
able powers of observation, could find no sat- 
isfaction. They seemed exactly what they 
, professed to be, and I could not have sworn to 
♦^ne of them. There in that pleasant dining- 
,3foom, with etchings on the walls, and a pic- 
ture of an old lady in a bib above the mantel- 
piece, I could see nothing to connect them 
with the moorland desperadoes. There was a 
silver cigarette-box beside me and I saw that 
it had been won by Percival Appleton, Esq., 
of the St. Bede’s Club, in a golf tournament. 
I had to keep firm hold of Peter Pienaar to 
prevent ftiyself bolting out of that house. 

^Well,” said the old man politely, ‘^are 
you reassured by your scrutiny, sir? I hope 
you’ll find it consistent with your duty to drop 
this ridiculous business. I make no com- 
plaint, but you see how annoying it must be to 
respectable people.” 



I shook my head. ' 

‘^Oh, Lord,” said the young man, ^^this is i i 
bit too thick!” 

^‘Do you propose to march us off to the po- 
lice station?” asked the plump one. ‘‘That 
might be the best way out of it, but I suppose 
you won’t be content with the local branch. I 
have the right to ask to see your warrant, but 
I don’t wish to cast any aspersions upon you. 
You are only doing your duty. But you’ll 
admit it’s horribly awkward. What do you 
propose to do?” 

There was nothing to do except to call in 
my men and have them arrested or to confess 
my blunder and clear out. I felt mesmerised 
by the whole place, by the air of obvious in- 
nocence — not innocence merely, but frank, 
honest bewilderment and concern in the three 

“Oh, Peter Pienaar,” I groaned inwardly, 
and for a moment I was very near damning 
myself for a fool and asking their pardon. 

“Meantime I vote we have a game of 
bridge,” said the plump one. “It will give 



i vlr. Hannay time to think over things, and 
f ou know we have been wanting a fourth 
■ layer. Do you play, sir?” 
i I accepted as if it had been an ordinary in- 
vitation at the club. The whole business had 
mesmerised me. We went into the smoking- 
room, where a card-table was set out, and I 
was offered things to smoke and drink. I 
took my place at the table in a kind of dream. 
The window was open and the moon was 
flooding the cliffs and sea with a great 
tide of yellow light. There was moonshine, 
too, in my head. The three had recovered 
their composure, and were talking easily — 
just the kind of slangy talk you will hear in 
any golf club-house. I must have cut a rum 
figure, sitting there knitting my brows with 
my eyes wandering. 

My partner was the young, dark one. I 
play a fair hand at bridge but I must have 
been rank bad that night. They saw that they 
had got me puzzled, and that put them more 
than ever at their e^e. ’ I kept looking at 
their faces, but they conveyed nothing to me. 


It was not that they looked different; the^l 
were different. I clung desperately to th»ij 

words of Peter Pienaar. | 



Then something awoke me. The old man 
laid down his hand to light a cigar. He , 
didn’t pick it up at once, but sat back for ai! 
moment in his chair, with his fingers tapping 
on his knees. 

It was the movement I remembered wheiir 
I had stood before him in the moorland farm 
with the pistols of his servants behind 

A little thing, lasting only a second, and the 
odds were a thousand to one that I might have i 
had my eyes on my cards at the time and 
missed it. But I didn’t and, in a flash, the air 
seemed to clear. Some shadow lifted from 
my brain and I was looking at the three men 
with full and absolute recognition. 

The clock on the mantelpiece struck ten 

The three faces seemed to change before my 
eyes and reveal their secrets. The young one 


was the murderer. Now I saw cruelty and 
ruthlessness where before I had only seen 
good-humour. His knife I made certain had 
skewered Scudder to the floor. His kind had 
put the bullet in Karolides. The plump man’s 
features seemed to dislimn and form again, as 
I looked at them. He hadn’t a face, only a 
hundred masks that he could assume when he 
pleased. That chap must have been a superb 
actor. Perhaps he had been Lord Alloa of 
the night before; perhaps not; it didn’t mat- 
ter. I wondered if he was the fellow who had 
first tracked Scudder and left his card on him. 
Scudder had said he lisped, and I could im- 
agine how the adoption of a lisp might add 

But the old man was the pick of the lot. 
He was sheer brain, icy, cool, calculating, 
as ruthless as a steam hammer. Now that my 
eyes were opened I wondered where I had 
seen the benevolence. His jaw was like 
chilled steel, and his eyes had the inhuman 
luminosity of a bird’s. I went on playing, 
and every second a greater hate welled up in 


my heart. It almost choked me, and I couldn’t 
answer when my partner spoke. Only a little 
longer could I endure their company. 

‘Whew! Bob! Look at the time,” said 
the old man. “You’d better think about catch- 
ing your train. Bob’s got to go to town to- 
night,” he added, turning to me. The voice 
rang now as false as hell. 

I looked at the clock and it was nearly half- 
past ten. 

“I am afraid you must put off your jour- 
ney,” I said. 

“O damn!” said the young man. “I 
thought you had dropped that rot. I’ve sim- 
ply got to go. You can have my address and 
I’ll give any security you like.” 

“No,” I said, “you must stay.” 

At that I think they must have realised that 
the game was desperate. Their only chance 
had been to convince me that I was playing 
the fool, and that had failed. But the old 
man spoke again. 

“I’ll go bail for my nephew. That ought 
to content you, Mr. Hannay.” Was it fancy, 


or did I detect some halt in the smoothness of 
that voice. 

There must have been, for, as I glanced at 
him, his eyelids fell in that hawk-like hood 
which fear had stamped on my memory. 

I blew my whistle. 

In an instant the lights were out. A pair 
of strong arms gripped me round the waist, 
covering the pockets in which a man might 
be expected to carry a pistol. 

**Schnell, Franz/' cried a voice, ^^der bott, 
der bott!” As it spoke I saw two of my fel- 
lows emerge on the moonlit lawn. 

The young dark man leaped for the win- 
dow, was through it, and over the low fence 
before a hand could touch him. I grappled 
the old chap, and the room seemed to fill with 
figures. I saw the plump one collared, but 
my eyes were all for the out-of-doors, where 
Franz sped on over the road towards the 
railed entrance to the beach stairs. One man 
followed him but he had no chance. The gate 
locked behind the fugitive, and I stood star- 


ing, with my hands on the old boy’s throat, for 
such a time as a man might take to descend 
those steps to the sea. 

Suddenly my prisoner broke from me and 
flung himself on the wall. There was a click 
as if a lever had been pulled. Then came a 
low rumbling far, far below the ground, and 
through the window I saw a cloud of chalky 
dust pouring out of the shaft of the stairway. 

Some one switched on the light. 

The old man was looking at me with blaz- 
ing eyes. 

‘^He is safe!” he cried. ‘^You cannot fol- 
low him in time. He is gone. He has tri- 
umphed! Der Schwarzestein ist in der Sie- 

There was more in those eyes than any com- 
mon triumph. They had been hooded like a 
bird of prey, and now they flamed with a 
hawk’s pride. A white fanatic heat burned in 
them, and I realised for the first time the ter-, 
rible thing I had been up against. This man 
was more than a spy; in his foul way he had 
been a patriot. 



As the handcuffs clinked on his wrists I said 
my last word to him. 

‘T hope Franz will bear his triumph well. 
I ought to tell you that the Ariadne for the 
last hour has been in our hands.” 

Three weeks later, as all the world knows, 
we went to war. I joined the New Army the 
first week, and owing to my Matabele expe- 
rience got a captain’s commission straight off. 
But I had done my best service, I think, be- 
fore I put on khaki. 




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